When the ball tipped off Wednesday at the Liacouras Center, the Owls were in unfamiliar territory.
This season, Temple had only played once at the home of the men’s basketball team – a 69-58 loss to the University of Delaware.
But despite the noon tip and one full practice session ahead of game time, the Owls were ready and defeated the University of Memphis, 84-61.
The Owls (11-11, 5-6 American Athletic Conference) were led by Alliya Butts and her career-high 30 points. The freshman guard has now scored in double figures in six straight games. Butts also hit six 3-pointers, including four in the first half. Defensively, Butts said the Tigers didn’t pay much attention to her on the floor.
“They were letting me free, so I just kept shooting,” Butts said.
For senior Tyonna Williams, it was a record-setting day.
The Maryland native drained a career-high seven 3-pointers, which brought her career total to 144, placing her in third on the program’s all-time list. Williams said everything went right from the start.
“Honestly it just felt good coming off all night and I wasn’t hesitating on my shot,” she said. “Early, I got in a good rhythm. I had some confidence.”
With nine quick points in the first eight minutes, Williams was able to find her rhythm. This quick start not only helped her, but she said it boosted the entire team.
“It just builds up the confidence and once we get off to a hot start, it’s like … we found our rhythm,” Williams said.
Defensively, the Owls were focused on Memphis’ Ariel Hearn, who entered the contest averaging 16 points per game. When these two teams met in late December, Hearn scored 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting.
Despite scoring 24 point Wednesday, coach Tonya Cardoza said her team kept Hearn in check.
“[Hearn] got a lot of buckets on us, but I felt like she had to really work for them,” Cardoza said. “Our team did a really good job of containing her.”
Outside of Hurn, the rest of her team shot a combined 14 of 41 from the field and scored 37 points.
As a whole, Temple held Memphis to 34 percent shooting, and 28 percent from 3-point range.
The Owls, contrarily, shot 41 percent from the floor and nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc.
“We don’t get to play here a lot,” Cardoza said, referring to the Liacouras Center. “We’ve only had one practice here, and for them to shoot the ball in this gym the way they did was remarkable.”
For the Owls, this was a game to get back to a .500 overall winning percentage. With an 83-49 loss to Connecticut having been days earlier, Cardoza knew her team would use the lessons from the defeat in a positive way.
“I felt like we played good basketball for stretches during the UConn game,” Cardoza said. “For us to carry it over today and come out and shoot the ball the way that we did … I felt like this was a good game for us, coming off the UConn loss.”
Owls hit a program-record 15 3-pointers Wednesday … Sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald finished with two points, the third time this season that she’s netted less than five in a game … The Owls’ 45.9 percent from the field was the third-highest of the season … The Owls shot a season-high 51 percent from 3-point range … Freshman Tanaya Atkinson recorded her fourth double-double of the season.
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.