PHILADELPHIA -- The Temple women's basketball team celebrated Valentine's Day with a 72-60 victory over Houston on Saturday at the Liacouras Center. The Owls shot nearly 70% in the first half to get by the Cougars, as Temple moves to 8-5 in the American, 12-14 overall. Houston falls to 1-13 in conference play, 6-19 overall.
Five players scored in double figures for the Owls, led by 22 points from freshman Alliya Butts
. The rookie also had a career-high six assists with three rebounds and a steal. Freshman Tanaya Atkinson
and junior Erica Covile
each scored 12 points in the win, with Atkinson tying a team-high with seven rebounds. Sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald
had 11 points and a season-high seven boards, while classmate Safiya Martin
had 10 points and six boards.
Houston jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but Temple stormed back as Butts and Atkinson keyed a 19-7 Temple run, putting the Owls up 19-11 with 14:11 remaining in the half. Butts knocked down three from beyond-the-arc during the surge, while Atkinson had six points in the paint.
The Cougars used a 7-2 run to close the gap to just three (25-22) with 9:46 on the clock, but Temple scored 10-straight, including threes from Covile and Fitzgerald, to put the Owls on top 35-22 with 6:14 to play.
The teams traded buckets over the final minutes of the half, with Temple holding a 46-34 lead at the break. Butts and Atkinson had 12 each in the first stanza, with Fitzgerald and Covile adding nine and eight point halves. Temple shot 69.2% from the field in the half, and 70% from three-point range.
Houston opened the second half with a 7-0 run, cutting the lead to 48-41 with 16:57 remaining. Temple scored four-straight to push it back to a double-digit lead, but another Houston surge, this one, 6-0, cut it to just a five-point advantage (54-49) with 8:22 on the clock.
The five-point deficit was the closest that Houston could get to the Owls, as the teams traded buckets before Temple went on a 13-5 run to bring the lead back to double-figures, where it would stay. The Owls closed out the game with solid free throw shooting from Butts and Martin, as Temple nailed down the 12-point victory.
The Owls finished with a 51% performance from the floor, connecting on 7-of-12 (53.2%) from three-point range. Temple also out-rebounded Houston, 35-21.
Houston was led by 13 points each from Mariah Mitchell and Tyler Gilbert, while Alecia Smith, Jessieka Palmer, and Marche' Amerson all had nine points. Box Score (PDF)