Senior guard Erica Covile scored 18 points on Monday to become the 23 player for Temple to reach 1,000 points in the Owls’ 78-64 win against Central Florida in the final regular regular season game at McGonigle Hall.
“I am excited and grateful for my teammates and coaches,” Covile said. “If I don’t have that help, I don’t score 1,000 points.”
Covile, who walked on the court before the start of Monday’s game with a bouquet of flowers and her mother Dara Covile, notched her 1,000 point after scoring a 3-point basket on an assist from junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald to give Temple a 43-34 lead with 6: 44 remaining in the third quarter.
With the win, the Owls (19-10, 13-5 The American) clinched the No. 3 seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, which takes place March 4-7 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The Owls will play the winner of Houston and Tulsa on March 5 at 8 p.m.
“We finished where we were predicted to finish,” Cardoza said. “With finishing third we have conference games to play and need to make a push and get into the tournament.”
Covile grabbed 11 of her 12 rebounds in the second half to bring her career total to 759 boards, which ranks ninth in school history. She also has 179 career steals, making her the fourth player to total 1,000 or more points and 750 or more rebounds.
“I thought I played well in front of my family,” Covile said. “I wish they were here every night and maybe I would have played better,”
Despite Temple having a 20-18 lead against Central Florida in the first quarter, the Knights shot 70 percent from the field compared to the Owls’ 36.4 percent.
After jumping out to an early 6-3 lead, the Knight could not regain the lead the rest of the game after sophomore guard Tanaya Atkinson put the Owls ahead 7-6 with 6:49 remaining in the first quarter.
Atkinson finished with a game-high 24 points. Sophomore guard Donnaizha Fountain joined Atkinson and Covile as the lone Owls to score double-figure points on Monday. Fountain finished the game with 18 points and and five rebounds.
Temple, who led 33-30 at halftime, shot 4-of-13 from behind the 3-point line in the first half and outrebounded the Knights 23-16.
Central Florida’s Aliyah Gregory, who came into the game second on the team in scoring, scored 15 points on Monday. The Owls held the Knights’ leading scorer Zykira Lewis to six points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“Central Florida has been playing well the last couple of games,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. ”Aliyah Gregory has been great, and I felt like we let her get hot in the start of the game.”
After the first half, Covile struggled with two fouls and managed to earn one steal and grab one rebound.
In the second half, Covile made two free throws after Tolulope Omokore fouled her with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter. The Owls followed her lead, jumping to a 51-39 lead with 4:27 remaining in the quarter.
“Not having Erica in the game in the first half always hurts us,” Cardoza said. “In that second half, she came out and started knocking down shots for us.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org