Temple Falls to ECU Thanks to Pirates’ Strong Defense

Written by: Declan Landis

Photo by: Temple Athletics

While Temple Women’s Basketball (7-9, 2-2 in AAC) was able to keep the game close in the first half, a 19-2 run in the first seven minutes of the second half led East Carolina (12-5, 3-1 in AAC) to a 72-51 win at The Liacouras Center.

“It was a disappointing loss for us,” Temple head coach Diane Richardson said. “ECU went out there and did what they needed to do. We turned the ball over quite a bit. They did exactly what they wanted to do with us, and we allowed it. We’ve got to do better than that.”

The Owls, who shot 42.3 percent from the field in the first half and 28.6 percent from three, went cold in the third quarter due, in large part, to ECU’s defense, the leading scoring defense in the American Athletic Conference. The Owls were held to 11 points in the third and shot just 5-of-16 from the field.

Temple ended up shooting 38.2 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three for the game. The Owls’ 51 points are the second-fewest they’ve scored this season, trailing only their 49-point season-opening performance at the No. 24 Princeton (9-5, 1-2 Ivy League) on Nov. 7.

“I think they were pretty aggressive,” Richardson said about ECU’s defense. “I think we were a little lax while they were pressuring us, and that turned into a disaster.”

Turnovers were a major issue for Temple as the Owls finished with 25, a season high. Seven of those turnovers came in the third quarter, sparking ECU’s run. ECU finished with 22 points off turnovers, including 10 in the third quarter.  

“Not even looking at it like a [19-2] run, it was more about us not doing what we’re supposed to do,” Richardson said. “We weren’t getting stops, we weren’t executing on offense, and we turned the ball over and just felt sorry for ourselves. We have to do better than that; we have to have some pride.”

Offensively, senior guard Danae McNeal led ECU with a career-high 28 points on 9-20 shooting from the field. When she was on the floor, ECU outscored Temple by 27 points thanks to her scoring and defense. She was the only ECU scorer with double-digit points.

The Pirates had 42 points in the paint throughout the game and shot 27 free throws, hitting 19. That physicality was the difference offensively for ECU, helping them control the pace of the game and limit Temple’s fast-break offense.

Sophomore forward Caranda Perea led all Temple scorers with a season-high 11 points. Sophomore forward Tiarra East led with seven rebounds and added a steal and block as well.

“All week at practice, our coaches told us the middle would be open,” Perea said. “I made sure I was getting those shots up after practice, and it was automatic when I was in there. Then, we started turning the ball over, so we went away from that. We beat ourselves; they didn’t beat us.”

Next up for Temple, they face Tulsa, the AAC leaders, January 17 at the Liacouras Center, looking to bounce back from this loss and get back above .500 in conference play.

To do so, Richardson pointed out the team has their work cut out for them.

“We are going to work hard,” she said, “and we can’t afford to relax. We have to get back on the horse and keep riding.”

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