Tanaya Atkinson stood behind the arc four minutes before tip-off against Houston, sinking back-to-back 3-pointers inside McGonigle Hall.
Atkinson continued to hit shots during the game, scoring a career-high 27 points in Temple’s 78-48 against the Cougars on Friday night. Temple is currently riding a six-game winning streak.
“I just always think I am the one in my head,” Atkinson said. “If I just get out of my head I can have a game like this.”
With 3:02 left in the first quarter, junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald missed a jumper and Atkinson attacked the board and rebounded the ball. Atkinson then spun around a Houston defender and made a layup.
Atkinson scored 13 of her points in the first quarter while grabbing four rebounds.
“I really like slashing and running the baseline,” Atkinson said. “I found easy openings to slash the ball and drive right away.”
Houston struggled early on in the game, turning the ball over four seconds into the contest. Temple forced Houston to turn the ball over nine times in the first quarter. Atkinson totaled two steals as Temple led 26-9 heading into the second quarter.
Houston ball security problems persisted in the second quarter. The Cougars committed 14 turnovers in the first half and trailed 36-15 at halftime.
“Our defensive intensity forced a lot of turnovers,” Atkinson said. “We did a better job of knowing who to jump on and who to lay off of.”
Atkinson finished the half with 17 points, the second highest points for a Temple player in the first half this season. Fitzgerald scored 23 points in the first half when Temple defeated Houston 75-66 January 2 at Hofheinz Pavilion.
In the third quarter, Temple started where it left off, going on a 15-9 run while Houston committed three turnovers with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter.
Temple led 61-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
With 8:32 remaining in the game Fitzgerald missed a jumpshot and sophomore guard Donnaizha Fountain grabbed the rebound and shot a layup. The ball bounced off the rim, but Fountain dove for the ball and tipped it into the basket.
Fountain finished with a double-double, earning a career-high 20 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
“It is just a mindset,” Fountain said. “When I played Houston for the first time, I was not as focused as I should of been, so I think is just a matter of preparing for the team.”
Sophomore guard Alliya Butts, Fitzgerald and Fountain all finished in double digits while the Owls finished shooting 44.4 percent from the field on the night.
On the defensive side, Temple finished with 12 steals and Houston committed 23 turnovers.
The Owls return to action Sunday at McGonigle Hall when they host Connecticut, the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 poll.
“We are just excited about this win and how we have been playing,” Cardoza said. “There is no comparison to getting ready for Houston and getting ready for Connecticut.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at email@example.com