PHILADELPHIA -- The Temple women's basketball team will compete in the first post-season Final Four in program history, as the Owls head to West Virginia for the WNIT Semifinals on Wednesday. Temple (20-16) will square off against the Mountaineers (22-14) at WVU Coliseum at 7:00 p.m.
Temple enters the WNIT semifinals after a 69-57 win on the road at Middle Tennessee in the third round on Sunday. Temple held Middle Tennessee to just five field goals in the first half, en route to a 20-point advantage at the break. The Owls then survived a four-minute stretch that saw MT score 15-straight points to open the second half. Temple iced the game by going 16-of-18 from the free throw line in the final 6:30 of play.
Against Middle Tennessee, senior Tyonna Williams
led the Owls with 23 points and five assists, while also pulling down six boards. Sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald
added 15 points and three assists, while freshman Alliya Butts
hit on three-of-four from beyond the arc to finish with nine points. Sophomore Safiya Martin
led Temple with 15 rebounds, while junior Erica Covile
added nine rebounds to go along with six points.
In four WNIT games, Fitzgerald is averaging 15 points and 4.5 rebounds a game, while Williams has contributed 12.8 points per game and a team-high 18 assists. Covile and freshman Tanaya Atkinson
have each tallied 11.3 points per game, while Covile adding 8.5 rebounds and Atkinson, 5.0. Butts (9.8 ppg) and Martin (7.3 rpg) have also contributed to strong WNIT play for the Owls.
In the tournament, Temple is averaging 69.2 points per game, while shooting 38.1% from the field and 40.5% from beyond the arc. The Owls are out-shooting and out-rebounding opponents.
For the year, Butts averages 12.4 points per game with 73 assists and a team-best 71 steals. Covile pours in 11.4 points and adds 8.4 boards a game, while also contributing 66 assists and 65 steals. Fitzgerald has come off the bench to average 11.2 points a game with 102 assists, while Williams scores 10.7 points a game with a team-high 121 assists. Atkinson wraps up the season box score with 10.6 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game.
As a team, Temple outscores opponents 66.6 to 65.2, but is being out-rebounded by a slim margin. The Owls shoot 36.9% from the field and 32.7% from three, while connecting on 73.7% from the free throw line.
West Virginia enters the WNIT semifinals after a thrilling overtime win over Villanova, topping the Wildcats, 75-70. The Mountaineers overcame a four-point deficit with 30 seconds remaining to force overtime, where they earned the victory.
Averee Fields paced the West Virginia with 22 points and 12 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the year. Bria Holmes had 17 points and a team-high five assists, while Linda Stepney also reached double figures with 11 points. Senior Crystal Leary had a strong game with eight points and tied a season-high 11 rebounds.
In the WNIT, Fields leads the WVU effort with 17.3 piints and 9.5 rebounds per contest. Holmes has contributed 16.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game with 15 total assists. Teana Muldrow has averaged 9.3 points a game off the bench, while Lanay Montgomery averages 6.3 points and 6.5 rebounds a contest in the postseason.
For the season, Holmes leads the Mountaineers with 18.9 points a game, while Fields has a season average of 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. WVU out-scores its opponents 65.8 to 59.6, also averaging nearly five more rebounds than its foes this season. The Mountaineers shoot 39.9% from the field, 29.5% from three point range and 65.7% from the foul line.
This will be the 31st meeting between the programs, with West Virginia holding a 24-6 advantage in the series. All 30 previous meetings came between 1981 and 1995, with the last match-up a 72-45 West Virginia win over Temple on February 13, 1995.
Temple and West Virginia have two common opponents this season, in Kansas and Villanova. West Virginia has fared better against that field, splitting with Kansas (L, 65-59; W, 59-56) and topping Villanova, 75-70. Temple fell on the road to Kansas, 76-56 in November, and also dropped a 64-59 Big 5 game to Villanova in December. Game Notes (PDF)
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