PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/26/2018 – The regular season came to an end for the Temple Owls. It was Senior Night and keeping with tradition the Owls celebrated their senior class of Tanaya Atkinson, Khadijah Berger, and Mykia Jones. Fellow senior Alliya Butts missed the season due to injury and will return next year.
For this year there is still business to attend to, specifically the conference tournament. Last year Temple went to the American Tournament as the second seed. This year they go as the 11th seed. It is not a position they wanted to be in, but it is what it is.
They could have been a higher seed, but the Memphis Tigers found a way to overcome the Owls and take an 83 – 78 win in overtime at McGonigle Hall.
Temple came out with a lot of emotion. Seniors Khadijah Berger and Tanaya Atkinson made the first four shots for the Cherry and White for an early lead. The emotion of the night had a positive effect on the team.
“There was definitely a lot of positive feelings,” said Atkinson. “Even though our season hasn’t been what we wanted, we still smile, and we are a family. On the court we have to learn. There are a lot of young guys, so we try to be the best leaders we can be.”
Temple stayed in front until the 2:06 mark of the 4th quarter when Memphis forward Alana Davis, who scored 23 points, converted a free throw to break the tie at 62. The Tigers grabbed a 65 – 62 lead. With just over a minute remaining Atkinson stole the ball and went in for a layup and a foul shot to tie the game. After a jumper by Brea Elmore, who also had 23 points, Taylor Barnes went to the line with 22 seconds remaining. She made one of two for Memphis. On the ensuing possession Atkinson rebounded a miss, then found an opening launching a three-pointer that found the bottom of the net with 5.1 seconds to play sending the game into overtime. Two big plays by the Owls leading scorer and rebounder, the player they count on the most.
In the extra period Atkinson gave the Owls an early lead, but Memphis made three from beyond the arc in the extra five minutes to earn the victory.
“This is a tough loss to swallow,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “On Senior Night you want to win your last home game. It’s been a rough season, but there are people still cheering us on. It is disappointing that we had opportunities and didn’t take advantage of them.”
Atkinson led Temple with 26 points and added 14 rebounds, another double-double. In addition Atkinson had 4 assists and 5 steals. The senior guard moved into second place in program history in career points with 1.846 points. She moved past former teammate Feyonda Fitzgerald. Marilyn Stephens is the Temple scoring leader with 2,194 points.
Emani Mayo scored 15 points. Berger closed with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and team-high 5 assists. Jones contributed 8 points.
Temple was out rebounded 49 – 40, and Memphis had 19 offensive rebounds giving them a 21 – 13 edge in 2nd Chance Points. A telling statistic.
“It is hard to win basketball games when you give up nineteen offensive rebounds,” Cardoza said.
The Owls head to the conference tournament. Temple tips off at noon on Saturday against Wichita State at the Mohegan Sun Arena. For the Cherry and White it is a matter of getting as many games as they can.
“We would love to go on a run,” Atkinson said. “But we have to take it one game at a time.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian