Mia Davis and Alexa Williamson set the Owls’ tone early against Tulsa (5-10, 4-10 The American Athletic Conference), scoring the first six points right around the basket and giving the Owls a 13-2 advantage less than five minutes into the game.
Temple (9-8, 9-5 The American) ran an offensive game plan centered around Davis and Williamson in the post and never trailed on its way to a 68-46 road victory.
“At the beginning of the game, coach harped on getting the ball inside the paint, our guards did a good job of getting me and [Williamson] the ball,” Davis said. “We ran a high-low action, and I fed Lex a lot.”
Williamson scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double. Davis also had a double-double scoring 17 points, collecting 10 rebounds, and adding four assists.
Defensively the Owls shined, holding Tulsa to 16 made field goals and 28 percent shooting for the game.
“I really thought it started on the defensive side, making sure that we kept the three guards in check,” Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza said. “In the first half, I think the two sisters [Wyvette and Maya Mayberry] I don’t think they even scored, so for us to be able to play defense like that and keep them under 50, that was really good to see.”
Tulsa has struggled offensively all season, said coach Matilda Mossman, so she was not surprised by the percentage against Temple.
“We scored 46 points and shot 28-percent, but the difference was we’ve been guarding better than that,” Mossman said, according to Tulsa Athletics. “The first four points were on offensive rebound put-backs, and that put us back on our heels.
The Owls guards, freshman Jasha Clinton who scored 12 points, and sophomore Asonah Alexander, played under control offensively, limiting turnovers and getting the ball in the post.
“They’re not forcing it as much,” Davis said. “They’re looking to see how many people are guarding us. They’re just making great passes and good angles, and when we’re getting packed inside, they’re hitting shots outside.”
Temple, which struggles to take care of the ball, averaging 18 turnovers a game, had only 14 against Tulsa.
All season Temple has struggled to maintain leads, blowing double-digit leads on multiple occasions. The Owls led by as many as 28 Wednesday. The Golden Hurricanes used an 8-2 start to the 4th quarter to trim the lead to 57-41. That was as close as they got.
Cardoza said she was pleased with the team’s fight to stay active with a big lead.
“This was the first game that we actually had a lead and didn’t give it up,” Cardoza said. “Saying that we were still up pretty big going into the fourth quarter, I didn’t want them to let up, and so we talked about how they had to win the quarter. I felt throughout the fourth quarter they were really trying to stay engaged and not just playing the scoreboard but trying to win that fourth quarter.”
With four conference games remaining and Temple one game behind Tulane and Houston for fourth place in the losses column, this win was important. At the end of the season, the top six teams avoid playing in the opening round of The American Athletic Conference Tournament.
“It’s very important for us to finish off strong, so we won’t have to play that first game,” Davis said. “Locking in and concentrating so we can win out the rest of our games.”
Inclement weather postponed a Saturday afternoon matchup at Memphis (4-10, 2-7 The American).
“Saturday’s game doesn’t even happen, so our next game is next Wednesday. That’s what we’re hoping for,” Cardoza said. “And we’re not going to look past that.”
The 12th-ranked South Florida Bulls (12-1, 9-0 The American), winners of 11 straight games, will travel to Philadelphia for a 3:30 p.m. matchup Wednesday at Temple.