Temple women’s basketball breaks losing streak

The Owls beat Tulsa, 76-75, on Saturday at McGonigle Hall behind 30 points from senior guard Tanaya Atkinson.

After leading by as many as 11 points in the first half, Temple had to cling to a late lead in its 76-75 win against Tulsa on Saturday at McGonigle Hall.

The game came down to the last possession. After Temple (10-12 overall, 2-7 American Athletic Conference) missed a layup that would have given it a three-point lead, Tulsa had the ball with 25 seconds left.

Tulsa did not call one of its three timeouts, and coach Matilda Mossman let her team run an offensive set that led to a shot by senior guard Erika Wakefield with two seconds left. Wakefield missed the shot, and senior guard Tanaya Atkinson grabbed her 11th rebound to seal the win for Temple.

The Owls broke their seven-game losing streak, picking up their first win since Jan. 7 against Southern Methodist.

“I’m just glad to walk away with a win,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Hats off to Tulsa, that was a tough way to lose on their last possession. But just finally getting a win was important for us.”

Atkinson carried the Owls offensively, scoring 30 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. In the first quarter, she passed Temple Athletics Hall of Famer and six-time WNBA All-Star Candice Dupree to move into third on the Owls’ all-time scoring list.

Earlier in the season, Atkinson passed Dupree on the all-time rebounding list.

“I didn’t know I was that close coming in,” Atkinson said. “It’s a good feeling. I know I put a lot of work in, in every practice and every season and it’s just paid off for me.”

With seven games left, Atkinson needs 100 points to pass her former teammate Feyonda Fitzgerald for second place on the list. She scored one-third of her points at the free-throw line, where she shot 10-for-16. The massive number of free throws for Atkinson was by design.

Early in the game, Cardoza noticed Atkinson was matched up against a smaller player and decided to run the offense through Atkinson in the post.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, and when I saw the matchup I knew I had to get myself to the line,” Atkinson said. “I like having the ball in my hands and just felt good in the flow today.”

Graduate guard Mykia Jones was the Owls’ second-leading scorer with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. In the past five games, Jones has shot 9-for-20 from 3-point range.

Freshman forward Breanna Perry recorded a career-high 11 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end. Perry got some time at center because freshman forward Mia Davis and sophomore forward Shantay Taylor were in foul trouble.

The Owls’ next game is on the road against Tulane on Wednesday in New Orleans. Tulane is directly above the Owls in the American Athletic Conference standings.

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