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Temple womens reach NIT semifinals, Villanova fails to advance

Senior Tyonna Williams scored 23 points to lead Temple.

TEMPLE UNIVERSITY now has two teams in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

The men, who reached the semis last week after defeating Louisiana Tech, will be joined by the women (though not at the same arena), who advanced to the semifinals of the Women's NIT with a 69-57 quarterfinal win over Middle Tennessee State yesterday in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The Owls will face West Virginia, which beat Villanova, 75-70, in overtime yesterday, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.

The win gives the Owls a 20-win season for the first time since 2012.

Temple (20-16) held Middle Tennessee (24-10) to just five field goals in the first half, en route to a 20-point advantage at the break. The Owls then survived a 4-minute stretch that saw MTSU score 15 straight points to open the second half. Temple iced the game by going 16-for-18 from the free-throw line in the final 6:30.

Senior Tyonna Williams led the Owls with 23 points and five assists, while also pulling down six boards. Sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald added 15 points and three assists, and freshman Alliya Butts hit on three of four shots from beyond the arc to finish with nine points. Sophomore Safiya Martin led Temple with 15 rebounds, and junior Erica Covile added nine rebounds to go along with six points.

In another game

* At West Virginia, Villanova couldn't hold onto a four-point lead with 30 seconds left and fell to the Mountaineers in the WNIT quarterfinals in overtime, 75-70.

West Virginia (22-14) advanced to the WNIT semifinals for the first time since 2005.

Villanova (22-14) led by as many as six points with 3 minutes remaining. However, Linda Stepney and Bria Holmes converted two layups in the final 23 seconds to tie the game at 62 and send it to extra time. Averee Fields scored the first six points in the extra period to help the Mountaineers push a lead they would never give up in front of an announced crowd of 2,509 fans at the Coliseum.

Villanova center Emily Leer ended her career on a high note despite the loss. The senior from Abington High led the Wildcats with a career-high 29 points.