Despite Junior Aaliyah Butts’ season high 28 points, the Temple Owls were stunned by the Oregon Ducks in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
It was a wild back and forth battle throughout, as the game would see nine ties and three lead changes.
Temple would trail 69-68 with just under a minute to go after Oregon’s Sabrina Ioenescu hit a go ahead basket with 24 seconds left in the game. The Owls would respond ten seconds later with a basket from senior Feyonda Fitzgerald to retake the lead. Oregon would then once again score another basket to take a 71-70 lead; this time from freshman Ruthy Hebard with 5.5 seconds left. Fitzgerald would then push the ball down the court and drive to the lane to attempt a game winning basket where she would be blocked at the rim, and the game would end.
Temple would be led by the individual performance of Aaliyah Butts who scored her season high of 28 points, and would also notch two steals. Butts was accompanied by her backcourt teammate Feyonda Fitzgerald who scored 16 points, and dished six assist. Junior Tanaya Atkinson would also chip in some help on the boards as Atkinson would grab 14 rebounds to go along with her eight points.
Temple’s backcourt tandem of Butts and Fitzgerald would account for a combined 89 percent of the Owls’ offensive production on the night.
The game was the first NCAA tournament game Temple had played in since 2011, when the Owls fell to the second seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the round of 32. The loss comes as Temple’s eighth on the season, and it is only the second time this season Temple has lost a game while scoring 70 or more points; the only other time being back on Nov. 19 against the Florida Gators (76-83).
The Owls will end their season (24-8), which is the best record Temple has had under coach Tonya Cardoza in over seven years.