UNCASVILLE, Conn. (WSU) – No. 6 seed Wichita State saw its season come to an end in the first round of the Aaron’s American Athletic Conference Championship to No. 11 seed Temple, 72-59, behind a pair of 20-point games Saturday afternoon at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Wichita State’s (14-17, 9-7) four-game winning streak was snapped and falls to 1-2 all-time vs. Temple. It was the first-ever appearance for the Shockers in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
Rangie Bessard scored a team-high 23 points and was the only Shocker in double-figures. She finished with 15 games of 20 or more points in her final season. Keke Thompson pulled down a game-high nine rebounds to help Wichita State outrebound TU, 39-32.
The Shockers finished the game shooting 38 percent but committed 18 turnovers and converted on only 5-of-20 attempts from beyond the arc. The Owls shot 47 percent overall.
The American’s leading scorer Tanaya Atkinson led all players with 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Emani Mayo scored 16 of her 20 points in the second half to go with six rebounds and six assists.
Tanaya Atkinson scored seven of Temple’s first 11 points to help build an 11-6 lead. The Shockers were just 2-of-7 from the field and allowed four offensive rebounds in the opening minutes to give the Owls an early advantage.
Both teams would then go more than four minutes of game time without a score. To end the quarter Temple and Wichita State would trade three-pointers, giving the Owls a 15-11 lead through 10 minutes.
Bessard scored seven of the Shockers’ 11 points, but WSU was just 4-of-14 from the field. Temple didn’t fare much better, going 6-of-18 and 1-of-8 from three.
A 7-2 run made it 22-13 Temple just a little over a minute into the period, forcing a Wichita State timeout.
The margin would grow to 10 for the Owls, but a 10-0 spurt would tie the game at 28-28. Cesaria Ambrosio and Diamond Lockhart would combine to score all 10 points during the run with a three-pointer from each of them.
Temple hit back with a first half closing 6-0 run to go into the locker room with a 34-28 lead. Atkinson led all players with 17 points in the half, while Ambrosio and Bessard led Wichita State with seven apiece.
Wichita State finished the half shooting 39 percent, while the Owls hit 47 percent of their attempts. Temple outrebounded WSU by six (21-15) in the first 20 minutes thanks to nine offensive rebounds.
The Owls’ lead hovered around the eight and nine-point mark over the first four minutes to open the frame. After a Bessard three, the Shockers trimmed the lead to five with 3:45 left.
Again Temple was able to answer the Shocker attack with timely shots after breaking down the defense.
A red-hot Emani Mayo scored 14 points for Temple in the quarter to send the Owls into the final 10 minutes leading 58-47. Temple shot 70 percent (7-10) in the quarter.
Wichita State fell in a 15-point hole after play resumed in the final frame behind a pair of three-pointers and a steal and score.
The Shockers went cold down the stretch and would not be able to recover. WSU went scoreless for more than five minutes in the fourth quarter and would only come as close as 11.