skip navigation

Temple WBB drops important AAC game to Tulsa at home

02/28/2024, 11:45pm EST
By Justin Procope

Justin Procope (@1procope)

Temple women’s basketball is learning the only thing harder than making it to the top is staying there.

In front of the largest home crowd of the season Wednesday night, the Owls fell to AAC opponent Tulsa 78-67. The loss snaps a five-game winning streak and drops them into a three-way tie for first place with Tulsa and North Texas, all three sitting at 11-5 in conference play with two games left. 

“We put ourselves here,” second-year Temple head coach Diane Richardson said. “We worked really hard to get here, but we didn't work hard enough to stay here.”

The Owls (17-11, 11-5) are in pursuit of their first regular season title in more than a decade. Richardson hopes the loss gives her players insight into what it’s like to be the top dog. 

“They’ve got to understand that now we are the hunted,” she said. “What that means is we’ve got to do more than what we’ve been doing, and it’s the first time for them to be in this position. Now they know.”

Temple junior Tiarra East had a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday's loss to Tulsa. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL file)

The result is especially disappointing considering Temple dispatched this same Hurricane team just last month. In contrast to their last meeting that saw the Owls walk away with a 58-48 victory in Tulsa, this time it was the Hurricane who would come back from down nine points.

The final score might not suggest it, but this game could have gone either way, with the lead changing hands eight times before Tulsa (21-8, 11-5) pulled away in the fourth. 

“We've got to play tough defense for four quarters and not get our hands down and just self-destruct and self sabotage,” Richardson said. 

Temple led after every quarter until the fourth, largely behind the play of junior guard Tiarra East. The 5-foot-10 captain was a handful all night, showcasing her full arsenal of offensive moves whether it be a contested mid-range jumper or a floater in the paint. She finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, both team-highs. Her play helped boost the Owls to an early first-half lead, highlighted by a 14-0 run that spanned the first two quarters. 

Fifth-year senior Aleah Nelson chipped in 16 points and three steals. Following close behind was guard Demi Washington with 15 points. Washington connected with East several times in the first half, with the two providing 22 of the team’s 35 first-half points. 

Ines Piper was the only spark off the bench, adding seven points, five rebounds and a handful of defensive plays in 22 minutes of play. 

Temple coach Diane Richardson hopes her team learned some lessons after Wednesday's loss. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL file)

The Hurricane were carried by the stellar play of their leading scorer, Temira Poindexter, who paced all scorers with 30 to go along with nine rebounds. She lit the Owls up for 18 by halftime but had just one field goal in the third quarter.

The Owls found themselves with only a 47-46 lead to show for it heading into the fourth and seemed to run out of gas defensively after that. Poindexter was able to get back in the game along with co-star Delanie Crawford, who poured in 18 second-half points. The pair each scored back-to-back and-1 layups with minutes to go in the fourth to push the lead to 69-63, a hole that proved too big for the Owls to climb out of.

Temple is undefeated this season when it shoots 40% or better from beyond the arc. But on Wednesday the Owls shot just 2 of 16 from long range while Tulsa went 9 for 26. 

“They're probably the top 3-point team in the conference, we knew that coming in,” Richardson said. “Our game plan was to show bodies and not let them get shots off, and we failed to do that. We’ve got to go back and look at the film and see where and why.”

Despite the outcome, the Owls are on pace for one of their best season’s in recent memory. Their five-game winning streak was the longest since December of the 2019-20 season and their longest conference winning streak since 2016-2017.

Temple will take on East Carolina Sunday afternoon in the penultimate game of the regular season. While it will have one of the top spots in the AAC Tournament and the first-round bye that comes with it locked up, Richardson does not want her team to take its foot off the gas. 

“There's no such thing as a good spot when you’re losing,” Richardson said. “So our goal was to win every game to be sure. This was a setback today, but we’ve got to get back.”

D-I Coverage:

Small-College News:

Recruiting News:

Tag(s): Home  College  Division I  Women's  Temple