Temple women’s basketball loses on Senior Day

The team honored its three seniors before the game, but was unable to to beat Tulsa.

Graduate forward Lena Niang prepares to make a jump shot during the Owls' game against Tulsa at McGonigle Hall on Feb. 29. | NICHOLAS DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University women’s basketball (15-13, 7-8 The American Athletic Conference) could not contain the ball against Tulsa (8-20, 3-12 The AAC) on Saturday afternoon, racking up 19 turnovers en route to a loss at McGonigle Hall. Tulsa gained its third win of 2020, while Temple lost its third consecutive game.

It was Senior Day for Temple, as the team saw graduate forward Lena Niang, senior guard Ciara Forde and senior center Shannen Atkinson play their final regular season game in McGonigle Hall. All three were placed in the starting lineup to begin the game. Forde accumulated her first career start and played the opening two minutes of the game. Each of the three seniors were honored prior to tip-off with their family and friends. 

However, the pregame ceremony and excitement did not transfer into the game, coach Tonya Cardoza said.

“I felt like right from the start, we didn’t play like it was our last home game,” Cardoza said. “I felt like we didn’t have any energy. We weren’t passionate about it being our last home game and that’s never happened. I’ve been a part of senior nights where I feel like I’ve had to calm people down and try to let them know that we can’t win in the first minute.”

Tulsa jumped out to a six-point lead with four minutes and 52 seconds remaining in the first quarter and led 20-16 at the start of the second quarter. The Golden Hurricane shot 47.6 percent on field goals in the first quarter and nailed 2-of-4 three-point shots in the first frame.

Both teams struggled through the second quarter, with Temple scoring just 15 points to Tulsa’s 11, helping the teams draw even at 31 points apiece at the end of the first half. Both teams shot identical field goal percentages in the first half—39.4 percent—and combined for 23.1 percent on threes in the second quarter.

“Most of the time when we were trying to run something today I felt like in particular, there was always someone that wasn’t doing something that they were supposed to,” Cardoza said. “It was always offense was never running the way it was supposed to run because someone would forget to do something.”

Temple also turned the ball over seven times in the second and fourth quarters. Tulsa racked up 18 points off of turnovers during the game, which included five of its 11 points in the second quarter.

“Honestly, I just felt like we weren’t in tune,” Cardoza said. “Didn’t matter what we were running, it just felt like every play we tried to run, someone wasn’t doing their job and they now were shooting the gap and jumping in the passing lane. They clogged the lane a little bit and made it difficult. I just felt like our mentality wasn’t into the game.”

Redshirt-sophomore guard Ashley Jones, who had seven turnovers for the game, echoed the same sentiment. 

“I just felt like our offense was off and like Coach said when we were running the plays it was just off,” Jones said.

Temple could have evened out the score in the final minutes, following a comeback from a seven-point gap with two minutes, two seconds remaining. Junior guard Emani Mayo, coming off a season-high 38 minutes against Central Florida, forced two turnovers in 20 seconds and added four points to bring Temple back within three points with one minute and 34 seconds remaining. 

“I just wanted to bring energy and I knew we needed stops, so I was just staying in-tune, trying to get deflections and bring energy to the team,” Mayo said.

Temple got back within a point with one minute and 31 seconds remaining but could not shut down Tulsa senior guard Rebecca Lescay, who knocked down a jump shot with 59 seconds remaining to put the Golden Hurricane lead at three points.

“It’s the last home game and we’re still talking about the same things,” Cardoza said. “We had it under control. We put ourselves in the position early on in January that all we had to do was just take care of business, and we didn’t take care of business. So whatever happens, happens but we didn’t do our part.”

Temple will conclude its regular season on Monday against Tulane (12-15, 7-7 The AAC) in New Orleans at 8 p.m.

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