With two minutes, eighteen seconds left in the first half of Temple’s 66-46 victory against Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane’s Kelsee Grovey drove down the lane for a layup before being blocked by Ugo Nwaigwe.
The graduate center tied her season high in all three categories by grabbing nine rebounds, five blocks and eight points in Temple’s victory Friday night at McGonigle Hall.
“My confidence came back somewhat during preseason,” Nwaigwe said. “Ever since then, I have been sailing on this confidence high.”
Sophomore guard Tanaya Atkinson missed from the free throw line with 35 seconds left in the first quarter. Nwaigwe grabbed the ball off the shot and laid it off the glass into the basket.
The following offensive play, Nwaigwe drove into the paint and scored another layup as Atkinson pumped her fists. Nwaigwe’s two baskets added to a 15-0 Temple run to give the Owls a 27-14 lead in the first half.
Nwaigwe, who averages 13.9 minutes per game, played 13 minutes in the first half. She totaled 23 minutes of game action after playing a season-high 25 minutes Tuesday against Southern Methodist.
“I have to be ready when ever my name is called, you never know what the situation is,” Nwaigwe said. “No matter how many minutes I play, I have to know to defend, and that is what I am supposed to do.”
With coach Tonya Cardoza starting five guards in the last seven games, she decided to give the bench a bigger role by substituting seven players from the sidelines throughout the contest.
Junior forward Ruth Sherrill played 15 minutes—the first time Sherrill played since Temple’s 82-58 win against Memphis Dec. 30, 2015. Sherrill finished with seven points and two rebounds.
“We are playing the guards way too many minutes to play with two post players sometimes,” Cardoza said. “I thought Ruth came in and built confidence in herself. She was in there knocking down shots and making hustle plays and then you just reward her with more minutes. So when she and Ugo were out there, it gave other players an opportunity to rest.”
Temple shot 42 percent from the field and outrebounded Tulsa 51-37. Sophomore guard Alliya Butts led the team in scoring with 10 points. Sophomore guard Donnaizha Fountain finished with nine points and five rebounds.
“Sometimes you are not going to be on that night, might be someone else,” Fountain said. “We are a team, whoever is hot, we give it to them.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org