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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Temple had its chances against No. 4 Louisville. Missed free throws did the Owls in.
They missed eight of nine from the free throw line in Wednesday night's 60-50 loss to the Cardinals, leaving coach Tonya Cardoza lamenting failed chances in many areas.
"When you're playing a team like Louisville and have opportunities and don't capitalize, it's disheartening," said Cardoza, whose postgame meeting took longer than usual as they dissected the loss. "We had a lot of easy opportunities that missed."
Foul-line troubles weren't the only things that dogged Temple (12-12, 6-7 American Athletic Conference). The Owls had 17 turnovers and shot 38 percent from the field. Despite outrebounding the Cardinals 41-40 and outscoring their reserves 18-6, that extra rebound or basket seemed to elude them when they were within a couple of possessions of making things interesting.
That's where the missed free throws proved costly, especially when Louisville (24-2, 12-1) was shooting slightly better.
Trailing 56-50 with 21 seconds left after Monaye Merritt's jumper, Tyonna Williams fouled Louisville guard Shoni Schimmel, who made both foul shots to seal the game. She finished with 21 points.
The Cardinals had no reason to brag, though, in shooting just 40 percent from the field (22 of 55), making just 12 of 26 free from the line and committing 11 turnovers — a combination that left the door open for Temple up to the final minute.
"We got lucky with this one because we missed so many free throws," Schimmel said. "It was just weird for us. We thought they were going in, but they just didn't. Coach (Jeff) Walz told us we were lucky for pulling this one out because against a good team we're going to lose this one because we don't make free throws."
Asia Taylor had 14 points and 12 rebounds while Antonita Slaughter added 12 points as Louisville swept the season series.
Williams' 12 points and Erica Covile's 10 rebounds led Temple, which had won its previous two games.
"We had opportunities but couldn't convert," Cardoza said. "We have to learn to win those games, but for us to be in this situation with a young team was a positive."
Facing a team coming off a 17-point drubbing by top-ranked Connecticut on Sunday, the Owls took advantage of Louisville's ragged stretches early on to lead 12-11 midway through the first half and only trailed 27-19 at the break despite 9-of-30 shooting (30 percent).
Louisville's 16-8 run over the final 9:14 of the half was the difference, a spurt led by Schimmel's eight points that put the Cardinals ahead. Slaughter added her third 3-pointer in as many attempts while Taylor had a basket in an eight-point half, helping the Cardinals finish 41 percent from the field after their shaky start.
Schimmel's long-range jumper and another Taylor basket briefly gave Louisville its biggest lead at 32-19, but Temple kept fighting back to stay within two possessions thanks to Williams, whose clock-beating jumper brought the Owls within 46-40 with 8:41 left. Shi-Heria Shipp followed with Temple's lone made free throw with 6:43 remaining to make it a five-point game, the closest Temple got the rest of the night.