Temple’s 78-74 overtime defeat to St. Joseph’s Tuesday night rekindled an old problem two games into a new season.
The Owls (1-1) fought St. Joe’s (1-1) to an extra period, but ultimately dropped their first contest of the year at the Hawks’ Hagan Arena.
St. Joseph’s took advantage of periodic lapses in Temple’s defense, which ultimately outlasted the Owls’ effort on the offensive end led by freshman guard Alliya Butts’ 22 points.
“They definitely took advantage of us on the defensive end and attacked inside,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “They went small and exploited that, and tried to take it at us inside.”
While Butts scored a team-high 22 points, freshman guard Tanaya Atkinson and senior guard Erica Covile fouled out amid the game’s late stages. Atkinson picked up her fifth whistle when she was forced to intentionally foul with the Owls trailing by one point with 19 seconds remaining in overtime.
After the Owls secured the rebound off a missed attempt on the second free throw, Butts’ missed the ensuing 3-point shot. The Hawks drew another foul and earned a pair of free points at the line, which sealed the contest.
“We had a couple of breakdowns on the defensive end that hurt us and we committed way too many fouls,” Cardoza said. “A couple down the stretch, we had to foul intentionally and they’re a great free-throw shooting team. We got some contributions from our freshmen. They got 39 out of our 74 points. But I feel like we h ad [St. Joseph’s] on the ropes and let them [back] in.”
Though the Owls fell late, the Big 5 matchup ended in a stark contrast from last season’s 73-53 score in favor of the Hawks at McGonigle Hall.
Temple stretched a lead to nine points in the first half, before the Hawks fought back and eventually took a 34-33 lead into halftime. The Hawks held an eight-point lead with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left remaining in the game, until Temple, this time, pulled back late.
The two teams exchanged leads in the final minute, before St. Joe’s missed a jump-shot attempt from junior guard Ciara Andrews and a follow-up tip-in attempt from junior forward Sarah Fairbanks with a tied score to force the extra period.
“I think [we’re] going to be OK,” Cardoza said. “This was a huge game for us on the road. We thought we could come in here and steal one, and we let it slip away.”
Along with Butts’ numbers, which included five rebounds and five assists along with her point total, Atkinson added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the first double-double of her collegiate career.
“Right now, they’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Cardoza said of the freshmen tandem. “Usually you don’t want your freshmen to be in that situation. Tanaya had a double-double, Alliya came in and was a spark for us early. The more experience they get, the better. They’re going be two really good [players] for us. But, they have to understand they have to take care of the defensive concept down the road.”
The Hawks finished 24 for 61 from the floor for a 39.3-percent performance, while they shot 38.3 percent (5 of 13) from 3-point range. Temple capped its game shooting 37.3 percent (28 of 75), and hit 6 of 19 attempts from long range.
Temple will open its upcoming four-game slate in the 2014 Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge against Georgetown on Friday at 9:30 p.m. EST.
Tuesday night marked Temple’s third consecutive loss to the Hawks. The Owls last topped St. Joseph’s when they defeated the Hawks twice in Atlantic 10 Conference play during the 2011-12 season … St. Joseph’s went to the free-throw line 30 times, hitting 25 of its attempts, while Temple sank 13 free throws in 19 trips to the line … Owls sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald finished with 18 points on 7-of-23 shooting.