Alliya Butts felt like she was finally back to her “old” self.
As the game ended, the fourth all-time leading scorer for Temple University’s women’s basketball was surrounded by her teammates as they congratulated her for hitting another career milestone.
The graduate student guard’s career-high 34 points helped the Owls win their second game in a row, defeating Tulsa (9-11, 3-4 The American), 75-61 in Oklahoma on Tuesday.
“It felt good finally, to get back to myself,” Butts said. “My shot was falling, everything was going good for me, so I continued to shoot the ball and play with confidence and help my teammates win.”
Butts, who was out last season with an ACL injury, has been an inconsistent scorer for the Owls (6-14, 2-5 The American) throughout the year. She’s scored as many as 34 points in one game and as few as zero in another.
However, over the past two games, Butts is now averaging 15.4 points per game, adding 28 and 34, respectively.
“She had a career-high and we needed every single bucket,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I thought she played a tough game, didn’t come out in the second half, didn’t ask for a sub, so that shows growth on her part.”
The Owls were trailing by five after halftime, but came out strong in the third quarter, opening the game up by outscoring Tulsa 27-15.
“We limited their three-point shots and we started making shots,” Cardoza said. “That was the biggest difference. I thought our defensive intensity picked up a little bit more and we tried to make it a little more difficult for them to score.”
In the first half, Temple shot 38.2 percent from the field, but in the second half, the Owls shot 59.26 percent. They ended the night shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Tulsa opened the game shooting 63.64 percent from the three-point line, making seven threes in the first half. The Golden Hurricanes were limited in the second half to 1-of-7 from behind the arc, leaving them with a 14.29 shooting percentage from the three-point range.
“We started to pick it up and get stops and we started to find ways to stop their post and stop guards from shooting a three-pointer,” Butts said.
Junior forward Shantay Taylor and sophomore forward Breanna Perry each had three blocks on the night. The team outrebounded Tulsa 43-39 and pulled in 34 defensive rebounds.
Sophomore forward Mia Davis pulled in a team-high nine rebounds. Davis was one rebound shy of her eighth double-double, as she added 25 points to Temple’s total.
This is the first time Temple has won multiple games in a row since their second game of the season on Nov. 9. The Owls now have two wins in The American and hope to keep their streak alive against Wichita State (9-11, 2-5) at The Aon Feb. 2 in Kansas.
“The fact that we were able to come out here and find a way to pull out a win, I thought it was a great team effort,” Cardoza said. “They feel good about themselves right now and that’s the most important thing.”