Written By: Liam Andell
Photo Courtesy of: Temple Women’s Basketball Twitter
With two teams trending in opposite directions entering Wednesday’s matchup, Cincinnati brought Temple back down to reality as they handed the Owls their first loss in conference play, defeating Temple 71-65.
The loss drops the Owls down to 4-4 overall and 4-1 in conference play. Temple hadn’t lost in over three weeks since squaring off against #5 South Carolina on December 17th.
During this four-game winning streak, Temple had given up an average of 56 points per game, unfortunately for them – today was a different story.
Having to go up against IImari’I Thomas is going to be a tall task for any team as she was named the AAC Co-Preseason player of the year alongside Temples’ Mia Davis.
This proved to be true while Temple focused so much of their defensive attention on Thomas in the paint. She would eventually get going in the 2nd half, ending the night with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite the Owls’ effort to stop Thomas, this opened up the floor for the rest of Cincinnati’s offense.
“I think we were focused so much on clogging the lane that we didn’t know where she was,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza in regards to Cincinnati guard Jillian Hayes.
Hayes was on fire shooting the basketball. While she could not connect from beyond the arc going 0-5, her mid-range game was on point and she tallied up 20 points on 9-16 shooting.
It seemed as though her shots from inside the three-point line were wide open with everyone pushing inside to stop the shots from the paint. It was very rare to see a Temple defender pressure a mid-range shot or put a hand in the face of a shooter. This proved to be a detriment for Temple’s defense as Hayes put the game out of reach with a wide-open mid-range jumper to extend Cincinnati’s lead to two possessions in the closing minutes of the game.
Offensively the Owls were able to hold their own. Freshman guard Jasha Clinton was dynamic on both sides of the ball and led the team in scoring with 23 points. The 23 points are a high for Jasha so far in her collegiate career.
Clinton and the rest of this Temple team have put more of an emphasis on shooting the three-pointer early and often as the Owls fired off 8 attempts from beyond the arc in the first quarter. Shooting 9-20 from the field, Clinton was able to shoot 4-9 from the three-point range.
“One thing about Jasha is that she always has confidence in her shot. She gets most of her points on steals and she’s been very consistent on the three-point line,” said Senior forward Mia Davis on her teammate’s performance.
The 20 shot attempts were the most thus far in Clinton’s short collegiate career. The more confident that she becomes with her shot, the easier it’ll be for Temple to space the floor and find open shots for Mia Davis and the rest of this Temple offense.
Davis had a fine day statistically as she racked up 20 points but struggled offensively as she missed out on a ton of inside shots and couldn’t turn those misses into second chances. Her 6 rebounds on Wednesday was tied for her season-low. Cincinnati held the rebound advantage by a wide margin of 12 and the offensive boards by 5. This led to more opportunities and eventually points for the Bearcats.
Temple will have the week off before they look to get back to their winning ways and head down to Houston (6-4, 3-3) to take on the Cougars on Jan. 20. The game will air on ESPN+.