Alliya Butts stepped onto the court Monday at McGonigle Hall knowing she was close to achieving a milestone.
When the junior guard scored a fastbreak layup early in the third quarter, she gave the Owls a three-point lead against La Salle. She also scored her 1,000th career point, becoming the 24th player in program history to do so.
“I only needed four points going into the game to get 1,000,” Butts said. “So I kinda knew coming into the game that I was gonna get to that point at some point in the game.”
Butts had 17 points, four assists and four steals in the Owls’ 86-70 win against the Explorers. The team improves to 2-0 to start the year, with both wins coming against Big 5 opponents with the same final score.
Four players scored in double figures in Friday’s road game against St. Joseph’s, where the team led by as much as 29 points in the fourth quarter.
Temple led the entire game against La Salle, except when the Explorers took a 41-40 lead after the first basket in the second half.
The Owls had more bench points, second chance points, points off turnovers, points in the paint and fastbreak points than La Salle, but allowed 19 offensive rebounds.
“We played really well offensively,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I’m just hoping that one day we can put it all together and play well defensively.”
The Owls controlled the first quarter. The 3-point shooting was key for the Owls’ early lead. Temple was 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the first quarter compared to La Salle’s 1-for-3.
Senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald and junior guard Khadijah Berger both made two threes in the first quarter to give the Owls a six-point lead to end the quarter.
La Salle shot 57.1 percent in the second quarter to outscore the Owls 18-13. The Owls only shot 27.3 percent from the floor in the second quarter, but their six free throws kept them close.
Fitzgerald started the third quarter with a couple of layups and finished with 10 points to lead all scorers. Butts added nine points to help Temple turn its one-point halftime lead to an 11-point cushion. She scored 15 points in the second half to help Temple secure the win.
Junior guard Tanaya Atkinson scored nine of her 20 points in the final 20 minutes. She has scored 20 or more points in both games to start the season.
Fitzgerald finished the night with 27 points and finished one rebound and one assist shy of a triple-double. Eight of her points came in the paint.
“You always want easy buckets as much as you can,” Fitzgerald said. “Whenever you can get easy layups it is definitely easier to get going, and it helped me get in my offensive flow.”
Temple looks to remain undefeated when it travels to take on the University of Florida on Saturday. The Owls opened up last season against the Gators with a 97-91 win at the Liacouras Center.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.