Temple falls to Charlotte in double overtime

The Owls led by 17 to close the third quarter but were unable to hold it after Charlotte guard Dazia Smith went off for 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Rayne Tucker shooting a contested shot during Temple's Nov. 9 loss to Georgetown University. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Right after Charlotte guard Dazia Lawrence hit what looked like a game-winning buzzer-beater as time expired in overtime, Temple head coach Diane Richardson ran right up to the referees to complain.

Richardson and her staff noticed the game clock stopped for more than two seconds with five seconds remaining while play was still ongoing. 

The referees huddled around the monitor with a stopwatch, timing how long the clock stopped. After a long review process, they concluded that Lawrence wouldn’t have gotten the shot off in time and took the basket away forcing double overtime.

Despite a second chance, Temple wasn’t able to pull away in double overtime.  

Temple (12-10, 6-4 American Athletic Conference) held a 17-point lead with a minute left in the third quarter but lost in double-overtime to Charlotte (13-9, 6-4 AAC) 88-81 Sunday afternoon in North Carolina. The 49ers dominated the second overtime period after officials waved off Lawrence’s attempted buzzer-beater and secured the win.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Temple head coach Diane Richardson. “But, we’ve got to get back on the horse and ride it. We know these things happen. This is a very tough conference, and so we’ve got to bounce back.”

The Owls held Lawrence, who is fifth in the American Athletic Conference in scoring, to just four points on 2-8 shooting in the first half. However, Temple did not have an answer for her in the second half, and she exploded for 20 points on 6-8 shooting.

Lawrence scored 14 of the 49ers’ final 18 points in the fourth quarter and did not miss a single shot. She was crucial in Charlotte’s 17-point comeback, and the 49ers carried that momentum into overtime. 

 “[Lawrence] knows how to draw fouls, and she’s a good basketball player,” Richardson said. “She was stepping into our chest, and unfortunately, the calls went that way. She got to the foul line, and the team got to the foul line to our demise.”

The Owls battled throughout the first overtime but foul trouble and poor shooting caught up to them in double overtime, with forward Denise Solis and guard Kendall Currence playing the bulk of the final frame, as Charlotte outscored them 16-9.

Temple came into the matchup looking for a win to stay at the top of the AAC standings, but the Owls struggled out of the gate. They had two missed shots and two turnovers in the first two minutes, forcing Richardson to call an early timeout.

Temple started to find its groove after the timeout and ended the first quarter on a 19-9 run, led by five players scoring at least three points in the first quarter.

The Owls cruised through the second and third quarters, as their aggressive defense helped force more than 20 total Charlotte turnovers throughout the game. The Owls have forced 20 or more turnovers in 11 games this season.

Charlotte began implementing a full-court press on Temple in the fourth quarter, forcing turnovers that helped them creep back into the game. The Owls struggled against the 49ers’ defense, shooting 23 percent from the field in the fourth quarter while Charlotte hit 85 percent. Temple made just three baskets in the fourth quarter, and Charlotte guard Olivia Porter knocked down two free throws to tie the game with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Guard Tiarra East battled inside and knocked down a layup with four seconds remaining in the fourth, but the shot was overturned when East was called for an offensive foul. 

“I thought it was clean,” Richardson said. “I thought the kid was moving. Unfortunately, the call didn’t go our way and for a ref to call that, it just baffles me.”

The Owls forced a turnover on the next play, but Nelson took a shot that rattled out, sending the game to overtime.

Charlotte pulled away in the second overtime period. The 49ers got to the foul line multiple times and Temple couldn’t keep up, missing multiple shots and ending its two-game win streak.

“We gotta play, we gotta play,” Richardson said. “It was an opportunity to take the ball game away, but unfortunately, we had a few people foul out and we struggled from there.”

Temple will return to The Liacouras Center to play South Florida (14-9, 6-4 AAC) on Feb. 10 at 3 p.m.

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