PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/22/2015 – The Temple Owls women’s basketball team continues their season as they advance to the WNIT Sweet 16 with a hard-fought 61 – 56 win over the University of Pennsylvania at the Palestra. The Cherry and White will face the winner of the N.C. State – East Carolina game at a site and date to be determined. It will be another game for Temple in the post-season. The beginning of the campaign did not bode well for the Owls, but they have continued to improve and now, continue to play.
“We knew if we could get things going the right way, we could turn it around,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “It’s a credit to them (the team). We were 4 – 9, and for them to still have confidence, come to practice, and get better, it says a lot about them.”
The game was a battle throughout. There were 7 ties and 9 lead changes. The Owls closed out the game behind 10 consecutive points by guard Feyonda Fitzgerald. She was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line over the last 53 seconds of the game scoring a game-high 16 points. The seven-point lead at the end was the largest for the Cherry and White.
“Those were huge,” Cardoza said about the streak of free throws by Fitzgerald. “The game was a three-point game and she makes all of those free throws. If she misses them, it’s something totally different. For her to be confident and make them says a lot about her.”
Penn had the advantage for most of the second half. A jumper by center Sydney Stipanovich gave the Red and Blue a 41 – 34 lead, their largest. Temple fought back behind back to back three-pointers by Fitzgerald and Tyonna Williams, then a layup by Tanaya Atkinson tied the game at 46 with 5:10 on the clock. Owls freshman Alliya Butts untied it with a shot from beyond the arc which gave Temple control of the game. Fitzgerald put her team ahead by 53 – 49 and was the start of her 10 consecutive points to the end of the game accented by the free throws.
The Quakers stayed in contention cutting the deficit to 53 – 52 on a basket by Katy Allen at the 1:16 mark. The foul shooting by the Cherry and White blunted the charge.
“We had some good opportunities, but some back to back foul shots disarmed us a little and made us pay,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We had opportunities to extend, but to their credit they made big shots at the right time.”
Butts added 12 points for the Owls. Erica Coville scored 9 points and took down 13 rebounds. Temple center Taylor Robinson contributed 9 points, 7 straight to end the first half.
For Penn forward Michelle Nwokedi recorded her 8th double-double of the season with a team-high 15 points and 14 rebounds. Stipanovich scored 13 points and handed out 5 assists. Guard Anna Ross had 10 points. The Red and Blue played without senior forward Kara Bonenberger who was injured in the win over Hofstra.
The season ends for Penn with a 21 – 9 record, 11 – 3 in the Ivy League, and was the third consecutive year in the post-season.
Temple (18 – 16, 12 – 6) continues their post-season run.
“It’s awesome for us to continue to play,” said Cardoza.
Written By: Glenn Papazian