Coming out of a tight first half that saw Temple women’s basketball (11-6, 4-1 The American Athletic Conference) edge out South Florida (10-7, 2-1 The AAC) 33-30, the Owls asserted themselves in the third quarter. They outscored the Bulls 24-13 and led by as many as 18 points en route to a 69-66 win.
Junior forward Mia Davis started the commanding performance with a three-pointer one minute into the quarter, followed by another two points from a contested layup. Although Davis, the highest scorer of the game with 25 points, only put up two more points in the quarter, other Owls stepped up.
Freshman guard Asonah Alexander and graduate student forward Lena Niang both put up six points in the half on two made threes. Temple separated itself from deep, shooting 5-for-11, while USF struggled, going 0-for-4.
Coach Tonya Cardoza singled out the Owls’ defense as the biggest factor in the third-quarter run. The Owls held USF to 33 percent from the field.
“I thought defensively we did a really good job of containing them,” Cardoza said. “We really did bear down and not let them get anything easy.”
Things turned around in the fourth quarter when the Bulls clawed their way out of a 14-point hole to start the quarter, coming within two points with under two minutes of play left.
The Owls escaped McGonigle Hall with a win, thanks to timely free throw shooting and key stops down the stretch.
The Bulls ate into Temple’s lead largely because of free-throw opportunities. USF took 13 free throws, converting 12, in the fourth quarter. The Bulls had gone 5-for-8 in the previous three quarters.
“We didn’t keep them out of the lane,” Cardoza said. “I felt like we started laxing, and we allowed them to get exactly what they wanted to get, penetration, wide-open threes, offensive rebound putbacks.”
Sophomore guard Sydni Harvey was at the head of the Bulls’ offensive success. She scored nine of her 19 total points in the final quarter.
Despite a rough quarter, Cardoza was encouraged by how Temple closed the game out.
“I like the fact that when the game’s on the line, a minute, two minutes, we’re able to find ways to win the game,” Cardoza said. “But now if we can figure out, when we do get leads, to not squander them.”
The Owls will play Wichita State (10-7, 2-2 The AAC) in Kansas on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m.