-- The #25/20 Temple women's basketball finished the regular season with a 66-60 win on the road at UCF, as the Owls clinched the second seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Temple improves to 23-6 overall, finishing with a 13-3 mark in conference play, while UCF dips to 19-10, 9-7 in The American, to grab the fourth seed.
Temple shot 50% or better in the first and third quarters, providing enough cushion to get by two quarters under 25% shooting. The Owls led by as many as 15 points before a fourth quarter UCF surge saw the lead shrink to just three points with 2:16 to play. However, Temple got a key "and one" from junior Alliya Butts
and came up with two defensive stops down the stretch to seal the victory.
Butts finished her night with 20 points, tying a career-high with seven steals, while classmate Tanaya Atkinson
was Temple's top scorer for the second game in a row, netting 21 points with nine rebounds. Senior Feyonda Fitzgerald
ended her final regular season game with 19 points and nine assists, while Ruth Sherrill
had four points and five rebounds. Rounding out the individual highlights, senior Safiya Martin
pulled down seven rebounds.
After an early 4-3 UCF edge, Temple out-scored the hosts 19-4 to finish the first quarter with a 22-8 advantage. The Owls shot 56.3% (9-16) from the field and did not commit a turnover.
Temple was held off the board for the first five minutes of the second half, while UCF cut the Owl advantage to 22-16. A Fitzgerald three broke the Temple scoring drought and Butts hit a pair from beyond-the-arc, including a buzzer-beater, as the Owls pushed their advantage back up to 31-22 at the break.
Butts led Temple with 14 first half points, while Atkinson had seven points, Fitzgerald seven assists, and Martin six rebounds. UCF held a significant advantage on the glass, 23-12, but racked up nine turnovers in the frame. Aliyah Gregory paced the Knights with eight points at the half.
Temple used an 8-2 run in the third quarter, backed by six points from Atkinson to push the lead to 41-27. USF counted with with a 9-2 surge to cut it to seven, but Temple scored eight unanswered to close the frame with a 53-38 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, UCF used a 17-5 run to get the Temple lead down to just three points with 2:16 on the clock. The Knights' surge was keyed by eight points each from Fifi Ndour and Aliyah Gregory, while the Owls went 2-for-10 during the stretch. In the end, Butts' three-point play pushed the lead back to six and Fitzgerald and Atkinson both pulle down big defensive rebounds to keep the advantage.
Temple heads to the American Athletic Conference tournament this weekend. The Owls have earned the two seed and will open the action with the winner of the Houston/Cincinnati game.
Box Score (PDF)