Shorthanded Owls Win Second-Straight, Beat UCF with Eight Players Available
Written by: Jake Gabel
Photo by: Andrew Mayo
Philadelphia – Temple (9-11, 4-4 in American Athletic Conference) defeated UCF (10-9, 1-6 AAC) 63-56 in the first game since the Owls announced Jasha Clinton and Aniya Gourdine were dismissed from the team.
The two former Owls were both suspended from the team right before their Wednesday win in Tulane. News of their dismissal from the team was announced last night by a team official. Clinton was Temple’s second-leading scorer, averaging just over 11 points per game.
Kourtney Wilson and Jalynn Holmes both voluntarily left the team at the same time Clinton and Gourdine were suspended.
Temple head coach Diane Richardson declined to comment on the situation postgame. Richardson stated that she is not allowed to discuss players currently not on the team.
Senior guard Aleah Nelson led all scorers with 28 points for the Owls, playing all 40 minutes in the win. Junior guard Tarriyonna Gary had 16 points and sophomore forward Tiarra East had 12 points for Temple as well.
Senior forward Destiny Thomas led UCF with 16 points, and sophomore forward Taylor Gibson was the other Knight in double-digits with 15 points. However, it was not enough for the Knights to come out on top.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle between both UCF and Temple with both the teams trading baskets, while also going through dry spells, evidently resulting in both the teams being notched at 28 each at halftime.
Only three players scored for the Owls in the first half: Nelson with 12 points, East with 8 points and Gary with 8 points as well. Meanwhile, UCF had eight different scorers.
In the third quarter, sophomore forward Caranda Perea became the fourth Owl to score. Perea left the game during the second quarter, she was grabbing her head and holding an ice pack on the bench. She returned to the game and hit a putback layup with two seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 47 heading into the fourth quarter.
Due to the unusual circumstances, a wild fourth quarter ensued for the Owls. Sophomore forward Ines Piper and senior forward Denise Solis both went to the locker room due to injury, leaving the Owls with just six active players. Perea fouled out, sophomore guard Makayla Waleed checked in for her, and Solis would go straight from the locker room to the scorers’ table to check in for redshirt junior Britney Garner, who had four fouls.
“They knew they were in foul trouble,” Richardson said, “and knew that we had a short bench so they were cognizant of keeping their hands up, where they could see them. It’s a testament to them, the determination they had.”
After the game, Richardson revealed that Piper broke her nose during the game. No time table was given on when she may be able to return.
“The backup plan is just do whatever it takes,” Nelson said about possibly having to play with only five players. “If we have to rock out with five, then that’s just what we’ll do. I mean we have eight people but we’re making it work.”
With two minutes remaining, Perea had fouled out, Garner and East had four fouls each, and Waleed, Gary, and Piper all had three fouls. Despite all of this, the Owls found themselves in the lead 59-50 after a technical foul was called on UCF’s head coach Sytia Messer.
After the game Nelson attributed the team’s defense for the win, and talked about how the defense elevates the team’s play.
“[Assistant coach Wanisha Smith] always tells us defense leads to offense, so we just kind of lock in with defense even if our shots aren’t falling, getting those easy fastbreak layups, doing what we do best,” Nelson said.
The Owls are now on a two-game winning streak and will face off against Wichita State (13-8, 3-5 AAC) this Wednesday, Feb. 1. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.