Temple cut Tulane off at its source, rendering Green Wave point guard Leslie Vorpahl ineffective in Tuesday’s American Athletic Conference game at Fogelman Arena.
Holding Vorpahl to eight points and two assists with their speedy guards and a tenacious trapping defense, the Owls scored 28 points off 23 turnovers and ran past the Wave 72-54.
“We just felt like for us to even be in the game, we would have to play really good defense,” Temple coach Tonya Cordoza said. “We had to try to keep the ball out of the Vorpahl’s and Morgan’s hands as much as possible and make them give up the ball to somebody else, and if the other person scores, oh well.
“They both are great scorers, and we had to find a way to stop them.”
Vorpahl was coming off a career-high 27 points against East Carolina and had scored 25 or more points in two of the past four games. Also, backcourt mate Kolby Morgan was held to 10 points — six below her average — on 3-of-11 shooting.
Vorpahl, who leads the AAC in assists at 6.1 per game, was held to her fewest assists in a loss since she had three against South Florida on Jan. 13. She did, however, score 26 points, a career high.
Temple point guard Alliya Butts scored a game-high 22 points.
The loss knocked Tulane (15-6, 6-3) out of second place in the conference. Perhaps more important, it was the Wave’s second home loss against a team it is battling for a top spot in the conference, the first being South Florida.
Temple (12-7, 6-2) entered the game having lost its previous two.
South Florida (13-5, 6-2) hosts Houston on Wednesday.
The Owls expanded a 13-point halftime lead to as much as 20 points, 48-28, by halfway of the third quarter. Tulane, however, rallied to cut the margin to 56-48 at the end of the third.
Behind freshman Meredith Schulte, Tulane trailed by less than 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but Fitzgerald hit a 3 that launched an 11-0 run.
However, the game was decided in the first half. Temple scored 18 points off 17 turnovers in taking a commanding 37-24 lead at halftime.
The Owls basically took Vorpahl out of the game by double-teaming her when she went right or left against Butts or guard
Feyonda Fitzgerald, with a taller defender coming over to stop her dribble and make it difficult to pass.
Temple led 26-18 at the end of the first quarter after forcing seven turnovers.
The Owls held Tulane to scoreless the first five minutes in nudging the margin to 30-18. The Wave scored just six points in the second, its second-lowest output of the season behind three in had during the third at SMU.
Tulane trailed 33-24 with 44 seconds left in the half when Temple reserve forward Ruth Sherrill made a putback. Schulte couldn’t handle a pass in the lane from Vorpahl, leading to a fast-break basket by Fitzgerald with 14 seconds showing.