Owls make WNIT tournament

The women’s basketball team was included among the 64-team field selected for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, which was announced Monday night.

The team’s inclusion in the tournament marks the first time it will take part in postseason play since the 2011-12 season.

Temple needed to win five of its last six games of the regular season in order to guarantee itself a .500 record and become qualified for postseason play.

The Owls’ first-round loss in the American Athletic Conference tournament put some anxiety in the team as a win over the Pirates would have put them in a more favorable postseason situation.

Sitting at a 16-16 overall record, the team was unsure if it would receive an invite to the WNIT.

The last time the team reached postseason play was in Williams’ freshman year when it also played in the WNIT. The Owls, then in the Atlantic 10 conference, finished with a 23-10 record that season.

They advanced two rounds in the tournament with wins over Quinnipiac University and Harvard University before losing to Syracuse University.

Trio awarded season honors

Junior Erica Covile, freshman Alliya Butts and senior Tyonna Williams each earned American Athletic Conference regular-season awards, the conference announced Wednesday.

Covile and Butts, who was also selected to the All-Freshman team, were named to the All-Conference third team, while Williams was the recipient of The American’s Sportsmanship Award. Each of the conference’s 11 coaches voted on the awards.

During the regular season, Covile averaged 11 points per game and a team-high eight rebounds per game, both of which were career-highs for the junior forward. After starting 26 games last season, the Detroit, Michigan native was one of three Owls to start in all 31 regular-season games and one of two players to log 900-plus minutes. The junior also totaled nine double-doubles after recording none through her first two seasons in a Temple uniform.

Along with her third-team honor, Butts was one of two unanimous selections for the All-Freshman team. The Edgewater Park, New Jersey native averaged a team-high 12 points and totaled a team-high 62 steals.

The freshman guard, who started 19 games this season, started the season coming off the bench and did not enter the starting lineup until Dec. 28, 2014 against the University of Memphis. After joining the starting lineup, Butts scored in double figures 14 times, including 11 straight games from Jan. 11 to Feb. 17.

Williams, the Owls’ lone senior, appeared in 124 games, starting in 95, and averaged eight points per game en route to her Sportsmanship Award. She ranks second all-time on Temple’s career 3-point list with 159. The Fort Washington, Maryland native also ranks fifth all-time in school history in career assists with 371.

For the season, she averaged a career-high 10 pointers per game.

The Owls will enter the Connecticut-hosted American Athletic Conference tournament this weekend as the fourth seed, and will play fifth-seeded East Carolina Saturday at noon.

Free throw shooting an asset for women’s basketball

It doesn’t get talked about nearly enough but free throw shooting is a valuable factor in any team’s success (or lack thereof).

Temple, through all its ups and downs this season, has been fairly consistent in this department.

During the Atlantic 10 Conference season the Owls are shooting 73.2 percent from the stripe, converting 60 of their 82 attempts. That ranks fifth in the conference behind Fordham, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and St. Bonaventure.

Two Owls also grace the Top 15 in that category. Sophomore guard Tyonna Williams is third in the conference with 91.3 percent on 23 attempts while senior center Victoria Macaulay has converted 81.5 percent of her 27 freebies.

Macaulay’s numbers show just how much she’s improved in that department. Last season she made just 64 percent of her free throws during conference play and 67.7 percent overall.

Williams and Macaulay’s success in that department has been part of the reason their scoring numbers are as high as they are.

But while the duo has combined for 50 freebies this A-10 season, the team only has 82. That’s third lowest in the conference. Temple just doesn’t force teams to foul them.

With that kind of success at the line the team should figure out more ways to get fouled and convert those easy opportunities.

Jake Adams