Temple women’s basketball season ends in upset loss to Memphis

The Tigers came back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to upset the Owls 59-58 on Friday night in Uncasville, Connecticut in the first-round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

Coach Tonya Cardoza consoles junior guard Alliya Butts in the third quarter of the Owls’ 78-47 win against East Carolina on Wednesday. GENEVA HEFFERNAN | FILE PHOTO

Late in the game, Temple University women’s basketball went into “panic mode.”

Heading into the fourth quarter, the Owls led by 15 points. Less than a minute in, Temple had extended its lead to 19. For the final nine minutes of the game, the Owls watched their lead shrink.

A nine-point Memphis run cut Temple’s lead to 10 with just under six minutes remaining. In that time, the Tigers outscored Temple 19-8, causing Temple to panic. The Owls started to make mistakes and miss shots.

Memphis closed out the game with an 11-point run to ensure the Tigers’ 59-58 victory against the Owls (11-18, 7-9 The American) in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Connecticut on Friday night.

The Tigers, ranked No. 11 in The American, ended Temple’s No. 6 season with the 19-point upset, the biggest comeback in The American Tournament history.

“We had the game in control and because of turnovers, because of mental lapses that we’ve had, we found a way to lose,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.

The Owls had taken the lead in the first seconds of the game and did not relinquish it until the final two minutes when Memphis tied and maintained the lead until the end.

“We were allowing ourselves to get trapped and when we did get trapped, instead of us turning and looking, we were just throwing skip passes,” Cardoza said. “I just felt like we allowed their pressure.”

Temple turned the ball over 17 times and gave up 14 points off turnovers. Memphis’s aggressive double-teaming defense in the fourth quarter also led to eight missed shots by the Owls.

In her final game as an Owl, graduate student guard Alliya Butts missed a jumper with six seconds left that would have given Temple the lead.

In the fourth quarter, the Owls shot 38.5 percent, slightly lower than their 40 percent on the night. Temple ended the night shooting just 23 percent from beyond the arc.

“When we’re playing well, it’s because we’re making shots,” Cardoza said. “As soon as we stopped making shots, we start to worry about missing shots instead of really focusing in and not allowing them to score. We feed off of making shots instead of feeding off of getting shots.”

Junior forward Shantay Taylor led the Owls in multiple areas, with 16 points and 14 rebounds, both of which were season bests. Sophomore forward Mia Davis ended with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Despite the forwards’ rebounding efforts, the Tigers pulled in nine more rebounds than Temple. Of those rebounds, only nine were offensive boards for the Owls while Memphis recorded 20 offensive rebounds and ended the game with 19 second-chance points to Temple’s seven.

Butts, in the last game of her record-setting career with Temple, played all 40 minutes while adding 10 points and recording six assists and a steal.

“No one ever wants to lose a game like this, especially with this being Alliya’s last game and everything that she’s done for our program, we wanted her to go out in a different way,” Cardoza said. “It just stinks that this is the way that we had to end our season.”

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