Owls open conference tournament play Saturday

Temple, the No. 3 seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, will face Tulsa Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN3 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut in the tournament quarterfinals.

The Owls (19-10, 13-5 The American) are looking to secure their first bid for the NCAA Tournament since the 2010-11 season after a semifinal finish at the Women’s National Invitational Tournament in 2015.

Temple comes into the conference tournament with a Ratings Percentage Index of 66, which is third highest in The American.

The squad owns two wins against Top-25 RPI teams, South Florida and the University of Florida. The Owls also have a win against Villanova, No. 46 in the RPI. Coach Tonya Cardoza’s team is 3-5 against Top-50 RPI opponents.

Temple’s offense is led by sophomore guard Alliya Butts, a first-team all-conference selection, and junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald, who earned second-team honors.

Butts is averaging 15.5 points per game, which ranks fifth in The American, while Fitzgerald is averaging 13.2 points per game and is second in the conference, averaging 5.4 assists per game.

Fitzgerald has had 157 total assists this season, the fourth most by and Owls in a single season. The 5-foot-7 guard is eight assists away from totaling the second most assists in a season in program history.

Senior guard Erica Covile, who scored her 1000th point in a 78-64 victory against Houston on Feb. 29, has had eight double-doubles this season and has started every game for the Owls.

Temple has outscored its opponents by 6.7 point per game this season, which is second in The American. The Owls rank third in the American with 70.4 points per game.

With a victory on Saturday, the Owls will earn back-to-back 20 win seasons, and will face the winner of South Florida, No. 20 in the AP Top 25 Poll, and Southern Methodist on Sunday.

Mark McCormick can be reached at mark.mccormick@temple.edu or on Twitter @MarkJMcCormick.