After a slow start, Alliya Butts led the charge.
The sophomore guard finished as the leading scorer with a season-high 25 points to help the Owls defeat East Carolina 83-63 at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina on Saturday.
“I just felt like I was making shots early,” Butts said. “So I just kept throwing them up.”
With three minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter and Temple trailing 15-11, Butts shot from behind the arc to score her first 3-pointer of the day. Butts finished with five 3-pointers on 50 percent from behind the arc.
The Pirates led the Owls 13-2 after a 11-0 run until Tanaya Atkinson scored a layup to snap the streak, making it 13-4 with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
Butts scored eight points in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers, but Temple trailed 19-16 going into the second quarter.
“It was still early in the game,” Butts said. “We knew we were capable of coming back.”
Twelve seconds into the second quarter, Butts drained another three to tie the game at 19.
Temple’s defense held East Carolina’s offense at bay, outscoring the Pirates 23-10 in the second quarter. Graduate center Ugo Nwaigwe landed a jumper, sparking a 7-0 run for the Owls, helping the Owls take a 27-21 lead with 4:35 remaining.
The Owls shot 43.3 percent from the field in the first half and led East Carolina 39-29 at halftime, but what stood out to Cardoza were the 12 turnovers Temple committed.
“We just tried to focus on defensive side of the basketball, that’s what has been getting us going,” Cardoza said. “We had to make sure we didn’t give up easy buckets and contain their players.”
After coming off Tuesday night’s 72-54 road win against Tulane, Cardoza expected her team to give the same effort against East Carolina.
“We see the results when we do well on the defensive side and not give up second chance opportunities,” Cardoza said. “If we focus on the defensive side, good things will happen more often.”
Temple struggles from the free-throw line with making 65.8 percent of its shots this season, but Temple finished the game shooting 92.3 percent, making 24 out of 26 attempts.
“That was huge for us, you get fouled, you go to the free throw line and make them,” Cardoza said. “We had a stretch where we were inconsistent from the free-throw line. It was key for us tonight.
Senior guard Erica Covile, junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald, Nwaigwe and Butts all finished with double digits points. Tying her career-high 15 points, Nwaigwe went a perfect 5-5 from the field.
“We are not a team that is going to win basketball games if one guy is taking the bulk of the shots,” Cardoza said. “What makes a difference is when you have four or five guys getting double figures.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at email@example.com.