Senior center Victoria Macaulay didn’t get the send off Temple was hoping for.
“We wanted to definitely let [Macaulay] walk away from here with a victory,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “That’s always the hardest thing. You always want them to have a memorable moment and winning on Senior Night is that moment, and it stinks that we weren’t able to give that to her.”
The Owls (12-17, 5-9 Atlantic 10 Conference) hung tough for the majority of the game, but much like the loss against Dayton last week, Fordham proved too much for them to handle. The third-place Rams (22-7, 12-2 A-10) shot 43 percent in route to a 58-44 win.
“Fordham is a heck of a team,” Cardoza said. “Their offense and the players they put out on the floor, I think they were just too much for us today. Guys that can knock down a three and then put the ball on the floor, I feel like they just took advantage of us.”
Both teams shot the ball very well in the first half, with Fordham clinging to a five-point lead at the break. Temple shot 41 percent in the first, despite a dismal 1-of-12 from the three-point range.
As was the case against first-place Dayton, Temple faltered a bit in the second half and perhaps put up a much better effort than the score would indicate. About midway into the second half, the Rams’ lead amounted to 13 after the Owls failed to score a bucket for more than five minutes.
“In the second half it got to the point where we were just taking ill-advised shots and not going toward our strengths,” Cardoza said. “I felt like on the defensive end, [Fordham] played four guards, sometimes five, and I felt like our weak side wasn’t there like it should have been.”
Fordham, coached by Villanova alumna Stephanie Gaitley, had four players finish in double-figures. Redshirt-junior guard Erin Rooney led the way with 15 points and seven rebounds, scoring her 1,000th career point in the process. Graduate student Marah Strickland scored 14 on 6-of-14 shooting, freshman forward Samantha Clark had 11, and junior guard Abigail Corning chipped in 10. Clark has emerged as a viable option for Gaitley, being awarded the A-10 Rookie of the Week five times this season.
Cardoza gave credit where credit is due following the game.
“[Gaitley] has just done a great job,” Cardoza said. “She’s a really good coach. My hat goes off to her and the job she has done.”
Macaulay led the way for Temple in its losing effort, falling just one rebound shy of a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds on her Senior Night. She and freshman forward Sally Kabengano, who notched 10 points, combined for 28 of the Owls’ 44 points.
Despite losing five straight games to close out the regular season, the Owls have fallen backward into the 10 seed of the A-10 tournament. Temple will face the 7 seed, which will be either Xavier or George Washington, in the first round on Friday, March 8 at St. Joe’s.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.