Dominant second half leads Temple past UTSA

Temple Women’s Basketball picked up the win in its first American Athletic Conference game, beating UTSA 71-58 Saturday afternoon at The Liacouras Center.


Temple Women’s Basketball forward Ines Piper blocked UTSA guard Kyra White’s layup with less than eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and sparked the Owls. Temple guard Tiarra East hit a three-pointer on the ensuing possession that gave the Owls a two-point lead, sparking a 6-0 run to seal their victory.

Temple (7-6, 1-0 AAC) defeated UTSA (6-6, 0-1 AAC) 71-58 Saturday afternoon at The Liacouras Center in the first game of the Owls’ conference schedule. Both teams struggled to find their stride early on, but the Owls’ defensive intensity pushed them over the top. 

“What a great way to start our conference today,” said Temple head coach Diane Richardson. “Our defense really showed today. We bounced back, we didn’t get our heads down and played confidently. I am pleased with the win, I am pleased with the performance. As you can see, equal opportunity offense prevails.”

The Owls had five players score double-digit points in the win, and guard Tarriyonna Gary led the way with 14 points, including 11 in the second half.

Gary was a pivotal factor for the Owls, as she brought an intense spark in the second half. After forcing a turnover in front of the Temple bench with more than four minutes left in the third quarter, Gary stood up and shouted at her teammates, firing up her bench.

“I feel like I bring a lot of energy to the team,” Gary said. “My teammates expect me to go out there and get steals because that’s what’s going to help us win the game.”  

Temple forward Rayne Tucker made her presence known in the paint, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds. She extended the Owls possessions and helped lead to their 13 second-chance points. 

Tucker finished with her third double-double in four games. She used Saturday to establish the type of player rival teams can expect through conference play. 

“I wanted to step out and set a statement for the rest of the season,” Tucker said. “Overall, I think we came back from break mentally prepared to go into conference play.”

Neither team could shoot efficiently from beyond the arc in the first half, as they made a combined 3-16 attempts from three-point range by halftime. However, the Owls’ defensive effort kept them in the game, forcing tough shots and keeping the game close early on.

Guard Aleah Nelson was Temple’s main source of offense while the rest of the team struggled. She had 10 points through the first half while no other Owl had more than four. She shot an efficient 5-12 from the field and finished the game with 13 points. 

Nelson had a rough start to the season, as she struggled to consistently shoot the ball. However, she has seemingly hit her stride, averaging 13 points in Temple’s last six games. 

The Owls’ defense turned up their intensity in the second half, helping force 16 UTSA turnovers and scoring 18 points off those turnovers. However, the Roadrunners did not go down without a fight, taking a 53-51 lead with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Owls closed the game out on a 20-5 run and secured the win.

Temple will stay at home and face North Texas (10-2, 0-0 AAC) at The Liacouras Center on Jan. 2 at 7 p.m.

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