Temple University women’s basketball (15-12, 7-7 The American Athletic Conference) was taken down 67-64 at Central Florida (17-9, 9-5 The AAC).
“I thought today was one of those days where they made a couple more plays than we did, but the fight in us was really there,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.
The Owls’ last chance to tie the game came with 34 seconds left when Cardoza called a timeout with 12 seconds left on the shot clock.
The Owls did not get a shot off in time and turned the ball over to the Knights. The Knights then made three free throws to put the game away.
“Before the timeout, it just didn’t look like we knew what we wanted to get accomplished and I didn’t want to waste that opportunity,” Cardoza said. “We reversed the ball around and we just passed up a wide open shot that we needed to probably shoot.”
The Owls got another strong performance from junior forward Mia Davis, who had 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, as well as 14 rebounds. The Knights also got a big performance from their leading scorer, senior guard Kay Kay Wright, who dropped 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
Junior guard Emani Mayo, who was placed into the starting rotation, was tasked with guarding Wright throughout the game.
“I thought [Mayo] did a great job of guarding her and contested everything,” Cardoza said. “So she just made a lot of tough shots, it’s not like we were giving her wide open shots.”
Despite Mayo’s performance, the Owls’ offense struggled throughout the game, Cardoza said.
“We struggled to score in that third quarter, their defense is pretty aggressive, they played zone the entire game and I thought we had a lot of good ball movement, it was just tough for the ball to go in tonight,” Cardoza said.
The Knights have only one home loss all season. The Owls attacked the Knights’ zone by hitting Davis in the high and low post, as well as letting redshirt-sophomore guard Ashley Jones attack off the dribble.
“I’m sure she would have liked to make a couple of those shots but they weren’t falling but she found other ways and that was getting the ball into the high post to [Davis,]” Cardoza said of Jones’ play.
Jones struggled from the field to start the game but found her groove in the fourth quarter. She finished with 16 points with eight of those coming in the fourth off 4-of-6 shooting.
“She found her rhythm and found easier opportunities in that fourth quarter where she was able to get inside that zone and shoot the little floater,” Cardoza said.
The Owls will look to rebound when they take on Tulsa (7-20, 2-12 The AAC) on Saturday at 2 p.m. McGonigle Hall. The Owls will celebrate its Senior Day in its last home game of the year.