Starters lead Owls to share of Big 5 title

Temple five starters scored all of the team’s points in its 83-48 win against Villanova on Saturday at The Pavilion.

Junior guard Donnaizha Fountain was only on the bench for one minute in Saturday’s game. Fellow starters junior guard Alliya Butts and senior forward Ruth Sherrill only got two minutes of rest throughout the game.

In Temple’s 83-48 victory against Villanova at The Pavilion, the Owls’ starters scored all 83 points and collectively only came off the court for 12 of the possible 200 minutes.

“It’s not something we intended to do,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I felt we did a really good job defending and because of that, we weren’t tired. We got our breaks when we could. There was never someone that needed a sub, I thought we maintained our composure.”

With this Big 5 win, Temple remains undefeated in Big 5 games has clinched at least a share of the Big 5 title for the first time since 2011. If the Owls beat the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 25, or Villanova loses to Penn, then Temple will win sole possession of the Big 5 title.

“It feels great,” Cardoza said. “Coming into this game, we knew that Villanova was in position to win the championship as well. They came into the game 2-0, so we talked about it’s not going to be easy. You have to go get it. If it’s something you want, you’ll fight for it.”

Butts led the Owls offensively, scoring a season-high 27 points. She went 8-for-18 from the field and 5-for-9 from behind the 3-point arc.

Temple shot 46.8 percent from the field in the game and benefitted from the Wildcats’ foul trouble. Villanova committed 18 fouls, and Temple took advantage, making 18-of-20 attempts from the foul line.

Fountain stepped up defensively for Temple. She recorded her first double-double of the season with 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Her strength on defense came out as she finished the game with a season-high four steals.

Temple’s strong rebounding led to 20 second-chance points. Sherrill pulled in 13 of the Owls’ 50 boards, which helped her get her first-career double-double. She made five of her six field goal attempts to score 13 points.

“She’s given opportunities and she takes advantage of them,” Cardoza said. “She wants to contribute, she wants to be a part of this, she wants to play. And now the minutes that she’s playing, she’s taking full advantage of them.”

The extra scoring and rebounding from Sherrill and Fountain have been helpful in junior guard Tanaya Atkinson’s absence. She has not returned to the court since she left the game against the University of Vermont with an injury on Dec. 4. Atkinson averages 15.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. After playing back-to-back road games, Temple returns home for a game against DePaul University on Thursday.

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