Williams carries Owls to WNIT semis

Tyonna Williams dropped 23 points as Temple defeated Women’s National Invitation Tournament foe Middle Tennessee, 69-57.

Sunday’s Women’s National Invitation Tournament game against Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee was not Tyonna Williams’ last game in a Temple uniform. The senior guard made sure of it.

Williams and her team-high 23 points led the Owls (20-16, 12-6 American Athletic Conference) to a 69-57 victory against the Blue Raiders and a trip to the WNIT semifinals.

The senior had been relatively quiet through her team’s first three games of the tournament, totaling 28 points combined in her previous three contests.

Coming off an 80-79 overtime win against North Carolina State on Thursday, the guard and the rest of the Owls cruised in the first half.

Temple hit on 5 of its 8 three-point attempts, two of which were from Williams, and held the Blue Raiders to less than 16 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes of play.

The Owls also won the battle on the glass in the first half, as they outrebounded Middle Tennessee 31-18 in the period. Sophomore forward Safiyah Martin collected 12 of her 15 rebounds in the first.

The all-around effort gave Temple a 20-point lead at the break.

Coach Tonya Cardoza’s team needed that big cushion. Coming out of halftime, Middle Tennessee went on a 15-0 run that cut the Owls’ lead to down to five.

Sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald halted the Blue Raiders’ run with consecutive jumpers, and Middle Tennessee would not get within six points for the remainder of the contest.

Down the stretch, all Temple had not to do was convert its free throws to secure the win. As has been the case throughout the WNIT, the Owls did just that. The team went 21 of 24 from the charity stripe, and has hit 69 of its 84 attempts from the free-throw line thus far in the tournament.

Loose Notes

Fitzgerald continued her offensive hot streak in the game with 15 points. She has scored in double figures in all four tournament games … After going perfect from the field in the team’s win against Penn last week, sophomore forward Taylor Robinson has not made a bucket since. She was 0 for 2 from the floor in Sunday’s contest … West Virginia will be Temple’s next opponent as the Moutaineers defeated Villanova in overtime in the other quarterfinal matchup.

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue@temple.edu or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.

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