PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/19/2018 – The second-ranked University of Connecticut Huskies visited the Liacouras Center a day earlier than planned thanks to Harper. There was another obstacle for the Huskies to overcome, a determined Temple Owls team determined to be different. UConn won the game 88 – 67, but Temple showed grit and competed.
“It’s been tough trying to find ways to get better and get wins,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “Coming into today, we knew it would be tough playing against one of the best team’s in the country. We talked about trying to be different than we have the past few weeks, making sure we competed for forty minutes. We did some of that. Tomorrow and the next day we have to be different for forty minutes.
The Owls came out knowing they needed to take their shots to be able to win. They made 27 of 65 (41.5%). Their best field goal percentage was against DePaul when they made 32 of 63, over 50%. Cardoza stressed the need to take the if open.
“We talked about if you are open, shoot the ball, don’t second guess yourself,” Cardoza said. “Because you don’t know if you are going to get another open shot. The way their defense is, they are not going to let certain guys get the ball. They tried to deny Alliya (Butts) and make it difficult for Mia (Davis), so others had to step up and shoot the ball.”
Alliya Butts lead the Owls with 17 points making 5 of 9 and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. Desiree Oliver filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 10 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double. Oliver also handed out 7 assists. Oliver set a career-high in rebounds and assists. Forwards Mia Davis and Alexa Williamson added 11 points and 5 rebounds each.
Connecticut had more firepower and got a career-high 26 points from guard Crystal Dangerfield, who also handed out 9 assists. In the first half Dangerfield had 16 points that the Huskies would need to establish themselves. Forward Napheesa Collier led the way with a season-high 30 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season.
“Sometimes she’s had good matchups down there,” Auriemma said about Collier’s performance. “Today was one of them. She is going to get her share, work, and I loved it when those jump shots went in. That’s what we’re used to.”
Connecticut out rebounded Temple 43 – 31, 16 – 11 on the offensive boards which lead to a 21 – 12 edge in second chance points.
UConn used a 13 – 2 run at the end of the first quarter to get a 22 – 11 lead. That lead would grow to 42 – 25 at halftime. While the advantage would grow to 24 points early in the third quarter. However, Temple would fight back getting to within 64 – 50 late in the third quarter.
“Overall, I thought we had the effort,” Williamson said.
The Owls are looking for their first win in the American (0 – 5). Overall the Cherry and White fall to 4 – 13. Next up is a Big Five game against Penn on Wednesday. Will Temple use this effort and a sign of growth? That will be seen at the Palestra.
UConn is 16 – 1 over the season and 5 – 0 in conference. They host SMU in the middle of the week. The next battle is against the snow and ice on the way back to New England.
“We played, we won, and now we are going home,” Auriemma said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian