Butts, Owls dominate second half en route to victory

Temple entered its matchup with Southern Methodist looking to keep pace with East Carolina and Tulsa in the American Athletic Conference Standings.

Both schools entered the night 10-6 in the American Athletic Conference, and one game ahead of the Owls entering Wednesday night.

With the score locked at halftime, the Owls controlled the majority of the second half en route to a 55-39 victory.

Temple kicked off the half with an 11-4 run that began with a 3-pointer from freshman guard Alliya Butts, and pushed Temple (14-15, 10-6 The American) ahead, 32-25, with 14:46 left in the half. The Owls were able to extend their lead to double digits with six minutes remaining.

The second-half spark came from two freshmen – Butts and guard Tanaya Atkinson.

Butts scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half, while Atkinson scored eight of her 10 points in the second half. For Butts, it was the 10th time this season in which she scored 17 or more points in a game.

Coming off a loss to South Florida in which the team shot a season-low 27 percent from the floor, the Owls used a balanced offensive attack to shoot 35 percent from the floor, while having six players score five or more points.

Junior guard Erica Covile, who came into the game averaging 11 points per game and eight rebounds per game, scored four points and grabbed five boards. It was the sixth time since Dec. 30, 2014 that Covile did not reach double figures in scoring and also the sixth time this season in which she did not have five or more rebounds.

After taking an early 3-2 lead on a Butts 3-pointer, Southern Methodist regained the lead, 8-3, after two minutes of play.

But the Owls responded with a 10-4 run to reclaim the lead, 13-11, with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. The two teams traded buckets the rest of the way in a half in which no team had a lead larger than five points.

Both teams struggled to find their rhythm offensively in the first half. The Owls shot 25 percent from the floor and committed six turnovers, while the Mustangs shot 32 percent from the floor – committing seven turnovers.

Defensively, the Owls forced 19 turnovers and held Southern Methodist to 31 percent shooting from the floor and 7 percent shooting from 3-point range, the lowest percentage the Owls have held a team this season.

Currently holding the sixth spot in The American, the Owls will look to capitalize on an opportunity to hop fourth-place East Carolina (19-8, 10-6 The American) in the standings when they host the Pirates at McGonigle Hall Saturday at 2 p.m.

Michael Guise can be reached at michael.guise@temple.edu or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.

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