BY : Melissa Payavis
It was an overtime thriller that ended in disappointment as the Owls fell to the Memphis Tigers 83-78. The stands were filled with excitement as the team honored seniors Tanaya Atkinson, Khadijah Berger, and graduate student Mykia Jones on Senior Night. Atkinson is the second player in Temple women’s basketball to achieve over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She also ended the regular season sitting at the number two spot on the all-time scoring list, beating out former teammate Feyonda Fitzgerald.
Coming into the game, the two teams were well-matched up. Temple had two more wins on the season and one less conference win. The Owls still hold the all-time series 7-2, with their first loss coming in a five-overtime game at Memphis in 2016.
They hit the ground running when Berger came out to hit two back-to-back threes. She couldn’t continue the momentum and ended the night with eight points total.
“I think it all started with my mindset coming into the game,” Berger said. “The rest of our teammates wanted to win for us. Even though the outcome didn’t come out how we wanted it, I feel like we still all stuck together.”
Temple lead for almost the entirety of the game, but it wasn’t always easy. In the second quarter, the Owls went on a 7-0 run and were feeling pretty confident. However, they were tested when the Tigers responded with their own 8-0 run.
The fourth quarter was the last chance for Temple to prove themselves. The team was leading by three after the third, and went down three with 22 seconds left. Atkinson came up with a huge three for the Owls that sent the game into overtime.
At the end of the day, rebounds were a main factor into the team’s demise. Memphis had 21 second chance points, compared to Temple’s 13. Temple ended the night with 40 rebounds compared to Memphis’ 49. Atkinson nabbed yet another double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Along with her eight points, Berger grabbed four boards. Jones ended her Temple career with eight points and one rebound on the night.
“This was a tough loss to swallow,” Coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Obviously senior night you want to win your last home game for your fans that have been supporting you all season. It’s been a rough season. There have been a constant of the same people in there, no matter what the situation, still cheering us on. So it’s real disappointing that we had this game, or had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them.”
Temple ends the regular season at 11-18 and 3-13 in the conference. They will try their turn at postseason play at the American Athletic Conference Tournament on March 3-6.
Michael is an award-winning radio host at WHIP Radio. He has been a staple host on WHIP’s Wake Up Call, and has recently occupied the role of Program Director for the station.