UNCASVILLE, CT. 3/8/2019 – The season came to an end in shocking fashion for the Temple Owls as they fall in the opening round of the American Women’s Basketball Tournament 59 – 58 to the Memphis Tigers.
The eighth seeded Owls held a 51 – 30 lead with 9:12 to play and appeared to be on their way to the quarterfinal round, playing much like they did in the second half in their previous game in Memphis.
Then Memphis, the 9th seed, turned up the defense and disrupted the Temple offense. The Tigers closed out the game with a 19 – 8 run to upend the Cherry and White and overcame the largest deficit in tournament history.
“I felt like we were in panic mode,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “We were allowing ourselves to get trapped. We played scared down the stretch. We played like we were afraid to win the game and really go out there and compete. We don’t have post-season. There is no after this, we don’t have anymore games. Its win or go home. At that point we were hoping that they would make mistakes instead of going out like they did and try and win the basketball game.”
Temple held the lead until there was 2:03 to play when Gazmyne Herndon scored on a layup to tie the game at 56. Jamirah Shutes gave Memphis the lead draining a three-pointer with just under a minute and a half to go which capped an 11 – 0 run. It was the first time Memphis lead in the game. Alliya Butts got a steal and hit a jumper for the Cherry and White for the final points of the contest.
For the Owls forward Shantay Taylor set a career-mark pulling down 14 rebounds and tied her career-high in points with 16. It was her third double-double of the season, and give her something to build on for the future.
“Over the course of the season, I learned my role and how to help to be apart of that,” said Taylor.
Mia Davis scored 14 points and added 7 rebounds. Butts ended her career with 10 points and 6 assists. She added to her program record with another steal for 280 career swipes. Butts also added to her school record with made three-pointers getting one to total 287 made from distance.
Herndon led Memphis with a team-high 15 points and Shutes added 12 points. Forward Alana Davis grabbed 11 rebounds to lead her team. Memphis will play #3 Cincinnati in the quarterfinal round.
“We certainly bent severely,” said Memphis Coach Melissa McFerrin. “I believe it was the trapping defense that changed the complexion of the game. It’s difficult to go to a zone against Temple because they have so many shooters. We never really had to go to a half court zone because our traps were productive. I believed it was our defense that was the difference with the ability of our guards to get traps and steals at the top of the floor.”
There were three rematches today in the tournament. This was the third game of the opening round where teams played the same opponent as the did in the regular season finale. East Carolina and Tulsa were the higher seeds that won. This was the game where the lower seed got the win.
The Owls wrap up the campaign with an 11 – 19 record. There were positives to be taken from the season. But the ending left a sting.
“Looking back on our season, we definitely under achieved and a lot of our losses were losses like we had today,” Cardoza said. “We had the game in control and because of turnovers and because of mental lapses; we found a way to lose games. No one ever wants to lose a game like this. With this being Alliya’s last game and everything she’s done for our program, we wanted her to go out in a different way.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian