After sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald landed a jumper to tie Tulane at 16 with three minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the first period, Temple never looked back.
A 3-pointer on the team’s next possession by senior guard Erica Covile put Temple ahead, and the Owls did not trial the Green Wave the rest of the game on their way to a 72-54 win against Tulane in New Orleans, Louisiana.
With the win, Temple (12-7, 6-2) sits a half-game ahead of the Green Wave for second place in the American Athletic Conference.
“I don’t really know how it happened, we played really strongly on the defensive side as a whole,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Once we got the lead, we just ran with it.”
Despite shooting 38.5 percent from the field compared to Tulane’s 43.5 percent in the first half, the Owls outscored the Green Wave by 13 points in the first half.
The Green Wave cut the Owls’ double-digit lead in the second quarter to nine with 4:31 remaining, but the Owls outscored Tulane 7-3 over the final four minutes to take a 37-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“When we were down, we didn’t panic and stayed composed,” Cardoza said. “We were able to get to the rim and take advantage of their defense.”
Butts finished the first half with 10 points and one assist, while sophomore guard Tanaya Atkinson scored 9 points, collected three rebounds and one assists.
Tulane continued to trail in the third quarter, but outscored Temple 20-19. In the fourth quarter, Temple regained momentum by going on an 11-2 run to take a 67-48 lead.
Butts led the Owls in scoring with 22 points and Covile finished with a double-double, totaling 10 points and 10 rebounds. Butts, Covile, Atkinson and junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald finished with double-digits in scoring.
“They were disappointed after losing to [the University of Pennsylvania] last time out,” Cardoza said. “They really wanted to go out there and play as a team.”
Temple ended a three-game winning streak for Tulane while ending its own two-game losing streak after falling to Connecticut, the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 poll, and Penn.
After stressing defense all season, Temple forced 23 turnovers and held Tulane to shooting 38.5 percent from the field.
“This win is huge,” Cardoza said. “This team does not lose at home often and it puts us in a decent spot in conference play.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org