At the end of the first half on Saturday, senior guard Tanaya Atkinson had scored 16 points and was on pace to score 32 by the end of the game.
She exceeded her first-half expectations. Atkinson ended the night with a career-high 39 points, shooting 17-for-27 and accounting for nearly 55 percent of Temple’s points.
Despite Atkinson’s scoring effort, Temple (9-7, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) lost, 80-72, to the Bearcats (11-7, 3-2 The American) in Cincinnati. The Owls are still searching for their first road win against an American Athletic Conference team.
“Tanaya really took over,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “She really wanted it, and she really went after it. She really put her heart and soul into the game.”
No other Owls scored in double digits. The next highest scorers were sophomore forward Shantay Taylor and junior forward Lena Niang with eight points each.
“We relied too much on Tanaya,” Cardoza said. “We needed others to step up, and not just with scoring. We needed guys to get rebounds, steals, assists, all of that, too.”
Temple was outrebounded 40-34, with Atkinson pulling in a team-high nine rebounds. Cardoza wasn’t pleased with the Owls’ defensive effort, as Temple gave up 80 points or more for the fourth time this season. Temple has lost all four of those games.
The Owls also found themselves in foul trouble against Cincinnati. At the end of the first half, Atkinson already had two fouls. By the end of the game, four Owls had four fouls.
Freshman forward Mia Davis, one of the four players with four fouls, played only 15 minutes, which tied for her season-low. Davis averages 11.3 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. Cincinnati held her scoreless.
“We’re not doing enough on the defensive end,” Cardoza said. “In the first half, I thought we played some really good basketball, but in the second half, we did too many of the things we’ve been struggling with. We gave up too many points to win.”
Temple has lost four of its past five games. In four of them, the Owls have given up at least 76 points.
“Losing is part of it, but I know we’re going to lose games,” Cardoza said. “I’m more concerned because I want us to be getting better every game, but we’re stunted. We’re not getting better and we’re not making the changes we need to be making defensively.”
The Owls will face conference opponent Houston next on Tuesday at McGonigle Hall.