Temple University women’s basketball held a 10-point lead against Southern Methodist with two minutes, 30 seconds left.
Then, the Owls (9-16, 5-7 American Athletic Conference) committed three turnovers, allowing SMU to come back and win the game after a 12-1 run. Mustangs’ sophomore guard Ariana Whitfield scored the game-winning basket with nine seconds left to defeat Temple 53-52 on Wednesday in Dallas.
This loss comes after the Owls won five of their past six games.
“To be up 10 in that situation, there’s no way that you lose that game,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “And we found a way because we didn’t value the ball. We were careless and made turnovers that led to easy points.”
Leading by 10 points in the final 2:33, the Owls got off only one shot. Mia Davis had her shot blocked by SMU senior forward Alicia Frolin.
The Owls turned the ball over four times in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The Mustangs scored 15 points off turnovers.
“Right there at the end, we know they’re going to foul us,” Cardoza said. “All we had to do was hold on to the ball and let them foul us, but we decided to try to make plays still, instead of just letting them foul us.”
Temple was down 32-17 at the end of the first on Wednesday. Early in the third quarter, SMU held a 19-point lead over the Owls. Temple then held the Mustangs to seven points while scoring 15 of their own, cutting the deficit to seven points.
In a seven-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, the Owls took back the lead.
During Temple’s 19-2 run in the fourth quarter, the Owls shot 7-for-11, and Davis scored nine of her 20 points in that time. Graduate student guard Alliya Butts added four points, and senior forward Lena Niang and freshman guard Marissa Mackins each contributed three.
“We fought back from being 19 points down and really did a good job of limiting them in the fourth quarter,” Cardoza said. “But the last two minutes, we just turned the basketball over and just gave it right back to them.”
Davis led Temple with 20 points and nine rebounds. Butts added eight points, seven assists, and five steals, which were a season high. Mackins and Niang each scored nine, and they combined for five of Temple’s six 3-pointers.
Temple shot 34.6 percent from the floor. From beyond the arc, the Owls made 28.6 percent of their shots.
Temple will take Central Florida — The American opponent – in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 23.