Temple beats Tulane for third straight win

Temple Women’s Basketball controlled its matchup with Tulane from the tip, beating the Green Wave 69-52 on Monday at The Liacouras Center.

Temple Women's Basketball moved into a tie for first place in the American Athletic Conference with its 69-52 win against Tulane | Landon Stafford / The Temple News

Three months ago, Temple Women’s Basketball was picked to finish in ninth place in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll. Now, the Owls have just five games remaining and sit tied for first in the conference with North Texas while playing some of their best basketball of the season.

Temple (15-10, 9-4 AAC) defeated Tulane (10-15, 3-11 AAC) 69-52 on Monday night at The Liacouras Center. Guard Aleah Nelson finished with 16 points and was one of four Owls who finished the game with double-digit points.

“It was a defensive effort,” said Temple head coach Diane Richardson. “I had been asking for consistency all season, and I think we’re getting closer to being consistent defensively. That is what got us over the hump.”

Smiles filled the Al Shrier Media Room after the game as the Owls remain in arguably their best position to win their first AAC title since joining in 2014.

“We’ve worked hard all summer and all preseason to get to where we are right now,” said Temple guard Demi Washington. “We all believed it. Our whole team believed it from the jump, and now we’re just putting everything together and proving to people that we are the top team in the league.”

Washington finished with 16 points, and she and Nelson shot a combined 11-21 from the floor. Guard Tiarra East pitched in with 12 points and 11 rebounds, earning her first double-double of the season.

The Green Wave started the game hot, rattling off six straight points and forcing Richardson to call a timeout to help her unit regroup. The Owls struggled to find good shots as Tulane’s defense blocked shooting lanes. The Green Wave scored 10 of their 16 first-quarter points in the paint, led by forward Amira Mabry’s six.

The Owls flipped a switch in the second quarter, finding their groove from deep by knocking down four straight threes to open the period.

“It definitely gave us confidence,” Richardson said. “We knew going into the second quarter they outscored us in the first. We needed to increase the intensity of our defense. [The team] did that and turned defense into offense and confidence. We get much more confident when we’re getting stops defensively.”

Temple shot 60 percent from the field in the second quarter. Nelson and Washington combined for 13  of the Owls’ 25 points, while Tulane scored just 13 points as a team. The Owls closed out on shots, holding the Green Wave to 1-5 from three while not committing a foul.

“We talked about communication all along,” Richardson said. “We’re better when we’re communicating and when we know where screens are coming and things like that, and they’ve done that consistently. We have a term that we use called ‘E.L.O: early, loud and often,’ and they’ve been ‘E.L.O.’-ing’ for the past couple of days.”

Tulane wouldn’t go away, cutting the Owls’ lead to just six points at the end of the third quarter. Temple finally pulled away in the fourth, outscoring the Green Wave 17-6 to close out the contest. The Owls held Tulane to just 26 percent shooting from the field in the second half, which proved to be key down the stretch.

Temple also found success forcing turnovers and getting out in transition, capitalizing on fast breaks. The Owls helped force 16 Tulane turnovers and scored 20 points off them.

“I don’t like that feeling when it’s a close game and we lose those games,” Richardson said. “So we’ve got to be way ahead just in case, knowing that this league is special. There’s a lot of parity in this league, and you can’t count anybody out.”

Temple will try to continue its winning streak when the team hits the road to face UTSA (13-11, 7-6) in San Antonio, Texas on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.