Strong second quarter pushes Temple past UAB

Temple Women’s Basketball scored 32 points in the second quarter and held onto the lead to beat UAB 86-72 on the road Wednesday night.

Aleah Nelson scored a season-high 24 points on an efficient 8-11 shooting from the field in Temple Women's Basketballs 86-72 win against UAB. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Wednesday night was an important game for Temple Women’s Basketball. The Owls entered their road matchup with UAB just a game behind first place in the American Athletic Conference standings. They needed a big performance in Birmingham, Alabama, to beat one of the best teams in the AAC.

The Owls found their groove early on, outscoring the Blazers by 25 points in the second quarter alone and coasting to a big lead at the half. UAB tried to come back in the second half and cut the lead to as few as 11 points, but Temple held on, securing the road win and a share of second place in the conference standings.

Temple (14-10, 8-4 American Athletic Conference) defeated UAB (17-8, 8-5 AAC) 86-72 on the road Wednesday night. The Owls had four players finish in double-digits, and guard Aleah Nelson led the way with a season-high 24 points on 8-11 shooting from the field.

“It felt good,” said Temple head coach Diane Richardson. “Our defense was kicking. I’m so happy that our defense was on all cylinders today, and that’s how it’s got to be for every game. I guess this is a big game, but all of them are big.”

The Owls started the game trading shots with the Blazers at a high percentage. Guard Tiarra East led the way in the first quarter with seven points, but a combined 12 points from guards Mia Moore and Ashton Elley led UAB to a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Temple started the second quarter on a much better note, finding efficient shots and knocking them down. The Owls went on a 9-3 run before UAB quickly called a timeout.

The timeout only seemed to benefit Temple, who closed out the remainder of the second quarter on an 18-3 run. Nelson and guard Demi Washington combined for 18 combined points in the second quarter, and the Owls went up 24 heading into halftime. 

“I kinda saw it yesterday in our practice,” Richardson said. “They were really free and loose. They came into this game loose and having fun, and I think that kinda started it. Yesterday with practice and into shoot-around today, they were knocking down shots.”

The Blazers battled back through the second half, outscoring Temple in both the third and fourth quarters, but the Owls kept UAB at bay by attacking the boards and scoring just enough to keep the game out of reach. The Owls finished with 40 rebounds, led by forward Rayne Tucker’s 15 rebounds and 14 points for her fifth double-double of the season. 

“[Tucker] was really good,” Richardson said. “She was really crashing the boards a lot. We knew we had to go in there and rebound, we knew we needed offensive rebounds and she did just that.”

Temple is now tied with Rice for second in the AAC standings with six games remaining before the conference tournament. The Owls will return to The Liacouras Center to play Tulane (10-14, 3-10 AAC) on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.

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