Coach Tonya Cardoza was honored as the winningest coach in program history before Sunday’s game against Tulane at McGonigle Hall.
Immediately after, Cardoza got right into the game making sure her players knew the defensive rotations, and matchups heading in the game against Tulane.
Temple responded by defeating the Green Wave 86-71 to add to Cardoza’s win total. The victory also extended the team’s winning streak to seven game while moving the Owls to 2-0 in American Athletic Conference play.
The first half was highlighted by the milestones from junior guards Alliya Butts and Tanaya Atkinson. With her first three Butts passed former Owl Qwedia Wallace for 13th all time on Temple’s career scoring list. Atkinson joined Butts and senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald as members of the of the 1,000 point club.
“It was really big for me,” Atkinson said. “I’ve been in kind of a slump recently scoring the ball and I was really able to get going today.”
Fitzgerald’s play spearheaded Temple’s offense in the first half as the Owls took a 40-26 lead at the half. She nearly had a double double in the first 20 minutes of action, heading into the break with 9 points and 8 assists. Fitzgerald finished off the double double in the third quarter and finished the game with 20 points and a career-high 13 assists.
In the second half, the game turned more physical. Tulane had more fouls in the fourth quarter than they had in the entire first half. With a more physical game turnovers became a problem for Temple. The Owls turned the ball over five times in the fourth quarter alone, and the turnovers for the game ended up leading to 12 points for Tulane.
“When you have the same people in the court for the entire fourth quarter players get tired,” Cardoza said. “That’s something we have to work on, our mental toughness so we can finish games with less mistakes.”
Temple scored 70 or more points for the fourth straight game. The offensive outburst has come after Temple’s worst offensive performance of the season against Rutgers, when Cardoza’s team scored 48 points. Other than the game against the Scarlet Knights, Temple is averaging 75.1 points per game during the winning streak.
Temple had three players finish with more than 20 points. Along with Fitzgerald, Butts and Atkinson both scored 21 points.
While the offense has been consistent for the Owls, Cardoza is still preaching a defensive message. Temple has still given up more than 60 points in three of the seven wins, as well as 59 to Fairfield.
Temple’s next game will be its third game in The American against East Carolina. Temple defeated East Carolina in the two teams’ only meeting last season.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com or @_kevinschaeffer