Following the game against Penn on Jan. 23, coach Tonya Cardoza stressed the importance of defense. “We can beat anyone left on our schedule if we play good defense,” Cardoza said.
On Sunday, Temple University women’s basketball (12-8, 4-3 The American Athletic Conference) could not play defense to the level it needed, falling 86-81 to Cincinnati at the Fifth Third Bank Arena in Ohio.
The 86 points Temple allowed is the second-most this season, behind only a 93-67 defeat to Florida Gulf Coast University on Dec. 22. Temple let Cincinnati shoot a season-high 51.7 percent from the field and allowed 28 free throw attempts over the course of the game.
Temple had been down by 11 points heading into the fourth quarter and cut the lead down to four points with six minutes, 37 seconds remaining. That was as close as the Owls came to tying the game. Cincinnati pulled away in the final two minutes of the quarter. Temple outscored Cincinnati 30-24 in the final frame. Yet, the Bearcats held on, in part because the Owls allowed them to shoot 61.5 percent for the quarter.
The Owls also struggled to knock down three-point shots. They shot just 26.1 percent from beyond the arc during the game, well below their season average of 32.4 percent. That includes a second quarter in which the team scored just 11 points and was 0-for-7 on three-point shots. Temple was outscored 20-11 in the quarter.
Temple benefited from strong performances from junior forward Mia Davis and graduate forward Lena Niang. Davis grabbed 11 rebounds and added 23 points for her 14th double-double of the season and 31st of her career. Niang grabbed 11 boards and scored 11 points for her third double-double of the season.
Temple also saw a significant contribution from sophomore forward Alexa Williamson, who added eight points and five rebounds in a strong follow-up effort to her season-high 12 points and 12 rebounds against Penn.
Temple now sits in fifth place in the American Athletic Conference standings with a 4-3 record in conference play. The Owls have nine games remaining in conference play, with five at home and four on the road before the conference tournament. Four of Temple’s next five games will be at McGonigle Hall or the Liacouras Center. Only one of these games will come against a team with a better record than Temple in conference play.
Temple is next in action against Central Florida on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in McGonigle Hall.