With less than four minutes remaining, Cincinnati intercepted sophomore forward Mia Davis’s pass.
As the rest of the Temple University women’s basketball team ran to the other end of the court, Davis bent over and put her hands on the floor in a mixture of frustration and exhaustion.
Temple (4-12, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) lost its fifth consecutive game, 78-72, against Cincinnati on Wednesday in Ohio. Despite leading for a period of time in the third quarter, the Owls could not secure a victory, remaining winless in conference play.
“I felt like that was an embarrassing display, that last 15 minutes,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I felt like we just quit. I don’t even know if that’s the right word for it, but it just wasn’t what Temple basketball is all about.”
The Owls trailed by six points at halftime. In the first seven minutes of the third quarter, Temple went on a 17-3 run to grab an eight-point lead. Davis contributed eight of the 17 points during the run as the Owls’ made 41.7 percent of its shots. Temple shot 29.7 percent from the field the entire game, despite the run.
Cardoza contributed the loss to “inconsistent play” as the Bearcats countered with an 11-0 run in the last three minutes of the third quarter to regain the lead.
“Inconsistent mental toughness,” Cardoza said. “It’s just been really, really inconsistent and we just need better decision-makers, we need guys that are going to value the ball, guys that refuse to lose.”
Temple’s fourth-quarter play only increased the deficit — Cincinnati scored 24 points to Temple’s seven.
“It’s just us being careless and not valuing possessions,” Cardoza said. “Everyone’s frustrated with it, but nothing is changing.”
Temple turned the ball over 19 times and Cincinnati scored 17 points off those turnovers. In the last six minutes of the game, the Owls committed six turnovers.
The Bearcats scored 42 points in the paint while the Owls recorded 20 on Wednesday. Cincinnati grabbed 11 more rebounds than Temple. The Owls lost the rebound battle each game of its losing streak.
“That’s what makes it really frustrating because it has nothing to do with talent, nothing to do with size, it has everything to do with things that you can control,” Cardoza said. “You can control valuing possessions. You can control trying to attempt to block out. You can control not just reaching in and fouling.”
In 37 minutes, Davis scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Temple received help scoring from an unlikely source in senior forward Lena Niang.
Niang made five 3-point shots for all of her 15 points. Before Wednesday, Niang averaged 2.5 points per game. The next highest scorer for Temple was sophomore guard Desiree Oliver with six points.
The Owls also ran into foul troubles with 23 personal fouls. Four Temple players finished the game with four or more fouls.
In its next matchup, Temple takes on Connecticut at the Liacouras Center on Jan. 20 at 12 p.m. UConn is tied with Baylor University for No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press Poll.