Covile’s career night leads Owls to victory

Sitting in a post-game press conference two weeks ago after scoring 14 points and collecting 11 rebounds in a breakout game against Florida State, Temple junior Erica Covile was asked if she could continue that type of performance.

“Every game,” she said.

In the contests following her performance against FSU, Covile has backed up her words with her play. Through the last five games, she has four double-doubles.

In Tuesday night’s 77-64 win over Southern Methodist, Covile took her game to an even greater level and had herself a career night.

The Detroit native finished the game with a career-high 24 points on more than 50 percent shooting in addition to grabbing 13 rebounds. She also knocked down 3 of 5 attempts from 3-point range.

Covile credits her recent emergence over this current stretch to an increase in her focus from the beginning of the season.

“I was not focused, not really having my head in the game,” Covile said. “I was somewhere else, but I’m back now.”

The combo guard showed signs of a big game early on against SMU. She scored 12 of the team’s first 19 points as the Owls took a 19-5 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.

Temple built on Covile’s hot start to produce their second highest scoring half of the season. They went into the locker room up by 17 after pouring in 44 points in the first 20 minutes of play.

Coming off the bench for the second straight game after starting the first 12 contests of the season, sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald helped Covile shoulder the scoring load.

The 5-foot-7 guard followed a 14-point performance in the Owls’ game against Memphis with 22 on Tuesday night.

After a shaky start to the season, Fitzgerald has shown signs of the consistent scorer she was last year. She said finding herself on the bench was an eye-opening experience and has helped her find her game once again.

“There’s a reason I’m coming off the bench,” Fitzgerald said. “I think I’m getting back to how I used to play, so I don’t really mind coming off the bench because it’s helping me get in the game more and focus more.”

SMU made a comeback in the second half, but never really made a real threat to Temple’s large lead. The Mustangs got within nine points multiple times, but the Owls answered each SMU run with a run of their own.

“In the second half we knew they weren’t just going to roll over,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We talked about how they were going to fight to come back and they did. They gave a great effort, but we made plays down the stretch to make sure we won the basketball game tonight.”

For most of the season, the Owls have been on the other side of these games, but in their last two contests they have made plays in crunch time to pull out victories.

With the 58-57 win against Memphis on Sunday and the victory over SMU Tuesday night, the Owls are now 6-8 overall and 2-0 in American Athletic Conference play. Additionally, the team has its first winning streak of the season.

“It feels good,” Fitzgerald said of winning back-to-back games. “Nobody likes losing, but we were just in this little place and all we needed was a win, and I think that really helped us out. Now we’re going to keep paying attention to the details and doing what we have to do, trying to keep the winning streak going.”

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue@temple.edu or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.

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