Temple battles to overtime in close loss to Saint Joseph’s

Temple Women’s Basketball trailed by as many as 17 points before sending the game to overtime but was unsuccessful in ending its two-game losing streak.

Temple kept close until the end, but foul trouble cost the Owls in their 67-65 loss to Saint Joseph's Wednesday. | TRAE BYRD / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With 12 seconds remaining in overtime, Temple guard Tarriyonna Gary fired a three-point attempt that could’ve tied the game, but her shot bounced off the rim and into a scrum. 

As players fought for the ball, freshman forward Jaleesa Molina snatched the rebound, fired a shot and missed. Forward Rayne Tucker had an opportunity but also missed. Finally, Saint Joseph’s forward Laura Ziegler grabbed the ball and got fouled, nailing both free throws to clinch the win for the Hawks.

Temple Women’s Basketball (2-4, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) lost to St. Joe’s (5-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10) 67-65 in the second game of a double-header at The Liacouras Center Wednesday. The Owls have now lost three straight games.

Temple struggled during the first quarter, shooting 28 percent from the field, but its second-half comeback forced overtime. The Owls shot just 20 percent during the overtime period, and foul trouble proved costly late in the game. All of the Hawks’ overtime points came off free throws, as they led by as many as five points with four seconds left.

“It’s a disappointing loss,” said Temple head coach Diane Richardson. “We showed that we have fight, but again, we start our games slow in the beginning, and then we have to fight. And we won every quarter fighting back and then overtime, and free throws killed us.”

For a team that has preached fast starts, Richardson’s squad started out slow once again. The Owls have been outscored by 36 points during first quarters in their last five games.

Temple had trouble guarding St. Joe’s in the first quarter, as the Hawks shot 62 percent from the field and 80 percent from three. Ziegler had 10 of her 21 points in the first quarter, and the Hawks jumped out to a 24-11 lead.

On the other end, the Owls struggled to create any offense, shooting just 28 percent from the field. Temple looked out of sync, forcing contested shots and missing the open ones they created.

“We shouldn’t be needing to warm up,” Richardson said. “We’ve got to have that mentality where we have to jump out first. I think we just kind are in chill mode in the first quarter, and that’s been our Achilles’ heel all season.”

The start of the second quarter was much of the same, as the Hawks took their largest lead at 17 points and the game looked like it was getting out of hand. Then, Temple found a groove by hitting shots and battling back. The Owls went 7-14 from the field during the second quarter.

The Owls cut the lead to just 10 at halftime and maintained the same energy through the second half. Freshman guard Tristen Taylor propelled the squad with 21 points, a career high.

“The coaches give me confidence,” Taylor said. “They tell me to keep shooting, and today, I just did what they asked me to do.”

Temple continued to push forward, getting its first lead of the game on a three-point shot from guard Aleah Nelson early in the fourth quarter. The two teams traded buckets throughout the frame before four straight points from Taylor gave the Owls a 59-57 lead with about a minute remaining. The Hawks had an opportunity to take the lead with 12 seconds remaining, but Molina blocked a layup attempt and gave the Owls the ball.

However, with just 11 seconds left, Taylor’s costly turnover on the ensuing inbound pass and a foul on Tucker gave Saint Joe’s a chance to win the game. Hawks forward Chloe Welch hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 59, and Nelson attempted a long three for the win that rattled out.

Foul trouble caught up with the Owls in overtime. St. Joe’s shot 10 free throws during the extra frame, and all of its points came at the charity stripe. Temple battled back but suffered a nearly two-minute scoring drought, as the Hawks squeaked out a win.

“I don’t understand how we can play a physical team and we shoot nine free throws and they shoot 23,” Richardson said. “When we talk about resilience, as I look at the stats, we won in every statistical category. It’s just that we started slow and free throws hurt us.”

The Owls will look to break their losing streak when they travel to Tempe, Arizona, to play Xavier (0-5, 0-0 Big East Conference) in the Briann January Classic on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

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