Study Session: 2024 Women’s Basketball Report Card

Temple Women’s Basketball earned a share of the AAC regular season championship but was plagued by bad losses. What were the biggest takeaways from 2024?

In her second season as head coach at Temple, Diane Richardson led the Owls to earning a share of the AAC Regular Season championship. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

There’s no disputing Temple Women’s Basketball had a successful season. The Owls reached the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament for just the third time in 10 years, earned a regular season conference title and picked up their most wins since 2017.

Yet, the 2023-24 season came to an abrupt end for a Temple squad that felt it had a shot at an NCAA Tournament appearance.

“It was disappointing,” said head coach Diane Richardson. “We played really hard to get to this point. I thought we had a great chance at winning the tournament, but we had a bad game at an inopportune time.”

The Owls had a strong season but lost games at key points, leading to an unfortunate end. However, there is a lot to be optimistic about for the future of the program.


Temple kicked off the year by displaying how explosive its offense can be, beating Delaware State 109-43 on Nov. 6, but the team struggled to maintain that consistency. They lost four of their next five games and entered conference play at 6-6, thanks to tough games against Georgetown, Ole Miss and Villanova.

Then, they woke up. The Owls responded to their two-point loss to SMU by winning nine of their last 11 games, vaulting toward the top of the conference standings. They secured  a share of their first regular season title since 2012 by beating FAU on March 6 in the final game before the postseason.

The program made a massive step in the right direction after finishing seven games below .500 last year and losing nearly half the roster. Richardson’s team is on the right path.

“The main thing to [get players to] buy in is people understanding their roles, understanding what we’re trying to do and how their role plays a part,” Richardson said. “Every single person is important, and we want to play for each other. They trust each other and us, and that was a big part of our culture.”

Richardson brought a talented group to her locker room. The Owls were one of the best in the country at offensive rebounding and ranked toward the top in the AAC in scoring, scoring defense and turnover margin.

Guard Tiarra East stepped up, increasing her scoring and shooting averages while becoming the number-one option. Newcomers Demi Washington and Tristen Taylor carved out unique roles and became essential in the backcourt. Forwards Rayne Tucker and Ines Piper led the defense, causing Piper to become a major part of the team.

This was the program’s best season in a while, and there was much to be proud of this year.


And yet, much of the good in those final 11 games — the scoring, defense and confidence — did not translate into the postseason. 

The Owls qualified for a double-bye by finishing in the top-four teams but came out rusty in the quarterfinals. They faced Tulane on March 12, and the Green Wave came back from down five points with five minutes left in regulation to force three overtimes before Temple won.

Temple was one turnover away from qualifying for its first conference finals since 2010, but guard Aleah Nelson threw an inbound pass into the hands of Rice forward Malia Fisher with four seconds remaining, ending the season.

“Coach Myles [Jackson] drew up a play,” Richardson said after the game. “In the anxiety, [Nelson] made a pass in the corner. The pass was supposed to go to [guard Tarriyonna Gary], and then we would run our stuff. They intercepted the ball, which gave us a terrible ending.”

The Owls averaged 30 percent from three this season but shot 1-8 in the semifinals, and they had 39 turnovers in two postseason games. Rice shot nearly 46 percent from the field, which was the highest shooting percentage from an opponent against Temple in 11 games. 

Nelson and Gary struggled in the two tournament games. Nelson went a combined 4-21, including 1-10 from three, and Gary shot 3-14 and 0-5. The two were key parts of the offense but could not find any rhythm when it mattered.

Temple had some bad losses this season, but its final one was the toughest. The team had such high expectations for itself but fell short.

“We practiced, we went over things, we went over scouts,” Richardson said. “We knew what we were going to see and who was in our bracket. Rice played a tough, tough game. They have some good teams on their team, and we couldn’t handle all of it.”


Richardson and her staff have a lot to address this year as Nelson, Tucker and Washington are all out of eligibility. The team had a strong run in 2023-24, but its season had a bitter end in the AAC Tournament.

At their best, the Owls dominated the American and appeared to be a shoo-in for the NCAA Tournament. At their worst, they struggled in the half court and appeared inconsistent against opponents that could slow the pace of the game down.
Despite its ending, this season showed the program is in the right hands. Richardson will have this team ready to compete again next season, and her younger, returning players  have even more experience under their belt for another run. For that reason, the Owls earned a B+ for their efforts.

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