It was a different day. But the results were the same.
After topping Central Florida in a 15-point win Jan. 17 at McGonigle, Temple faced the Knights in Orlando Tuesday night, and came away with a 71-54 victory.
The Owls had five players post double-digit scoring totals, and were led by junior Erica Covile’s 17 points and eight rebounds. Covile has reached double figures in 11 of her previous 12 games.
“To start the season, Erica basically said that she [wanted] to have a big year,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “But what she is doing right now is everything she said she wants to do … when things are tough for us, she is the one to step up … right now she is playing really good basketball.”
The offensive balance allowed the Owls (10-11, 6-2 American Athletic Conference) to maximize their offensive possessions. Temple shot 40 percent from the floor and tied a season high with nine 3-pointers. Cardoza said when the scoring comes from all over the floor, it poses a challenge for the opposition.
“It makes it difficult for teams to defend us when you have multiple guys that can be your leading scorer for the game and today was a great example of that,” she said.
On the other end, the Owls’ defense was also clicking.
Despite the fact that Central Florida’s Zykira Lewis scored 20 points, the Owls made life difficult for The American’s leading scorer.
Lewis, who notched a game-high 21 points in her last time out against Temple, averaged 30 percent from the field.
“I didn’t know she had 20 [points] until I looked up at the scoreboard toward the end,” Cardoza said. “I was like, ‘How did she get 20?’ … I definitely thought our guys did a good job of defending her and making it difficult for her – frustrating her a little bit.”
The effect of limiting Lewis was apparent. As a team, the Knights shot 30 percent, which is the lowest percentage the Owls have allowed this season.
“You gain more confidence when you are shutting down a team’s best player,” Cardoza said. “It makes you get in the passing lanes more … because you are trying so hard to make sure she doesn’t score, so you are going out of your way to defend.”
The Owls also forced 20 turnovers, marking the team’s third consecutive game in which it forced 20 or more turnovers.
With a size disadvantage, the Owls knew they had to be active on the defensive end.
“We just tried to be disruptive,” Cardoza said. “We have to be scrappy and I felt like our guys were getting in the passing lane and getting steals … we have to play that way.”
After falling behind off the mark, the Owls used a 14-6 run to regain the lead with 13 minutes left in the first half.
The Knights then tied the game at 22 apiece with just under eight minutes left. The Owls proceeded to go on 17-8 run to end the half.
Coming out of halftime, Temple used a 15-2 run to create a lasting separation on the scoreboard.
The Owls will put their three-game winning on the line when they take on No. 2 Connecticut on Feb. 1 at McGonigle Hall. Temple dropped a 92-58 result to the Huskies on a Jan. 14 visit.
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.