VILLANOVA, PA. 12/10/2016 – The Temple Owls started quickly and cruised to an unexpected 83 – 48 over the Villanova Wildcats at the Pavilion. The win gives Temple at least a share of the Big Five title this season. The Owls had four of their five starters score in double figures, led by the backcourt of Feyonda Fitzgerald and Alliya Butts. Butts had a game-high 27 points and added 8 assists. Fitzgerald had 20 points, 14 in the first half, and dished out 8 assists, one shy of a career-high.
In the first half the Owls made 44.1% (15 of 34) of their shots with Fitzgerald making 5 of 12. The lead after one quarter was 23 – 9 Temple, and 37 – 21 at half time. Villanova was consistent in their shooting, but not how they would want it. The Wildcats were 8 for 29 from the floor (27.6%) and 5 for 18 from distance (27.8%).
“It got us going,” said Temple guard Feyonda Fitzgerald about the importance of the good start. “It set the momentum for us. We got on a high and we didn’t want to let them back into the game. We kept pushing and finished it out with a victory.”
For the game the Cherry and White went 29 of 62 from the floor (46.8%) while they held Nova to 19 of 61 field goal attempts, and were 9 for 33 from beyond the arc.
“They (Temple) have a junior and senior ladened team and are extremely talented,” said Villanova Coach Harry Perretta. “We have a young team that does not understand how to play at that level. It is something that you have to learn. The only was they can learn is through games.”
Temple had a decided advantage on the boards pulling down 50 against 27 for Villanova. The Owls had a 16 – 9 edge in offensive rebounds. Temple forward Donnaizha Fountain had a career-high with 17 rebounds and she contributed 17 points as well. Forward Ruth Sherrill pitched in with 13 rebounds and 13 points, both career marks.
“We had players step up and play outside of themselves,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “Ruth (Sherrill) got her first start and came out with a double-double. Donnaizha got her first start of the season coming up with a double-double. There were great contributions from so many guys, and it was something we needed.”
Wildcats forward Jannah Tucker scored a team-best 15 points and guard Adrianna Hahn chipped in 10 points.
Villanova falls to 4 – 5 over the season and 2 – 1 in the Big Five. Their three game win streak was snapped. The Wildcats will have eleven days off before the next game at Duke.
Temple goes to 5 – 3 and are 3 – 0 in the city series, and can clinch the title outright with a win at Penn on January 25th at the Palestra. The Owls saw this game as an opportunity to play for a title, their first since 2011, and winning this game allows them to control their own destiny in the Big Five.
“This wasn’t any old game, there was a championship on the line and we really locked in,” Cardoza said.
It has meaning to the program and to the players.
“I’ve been here for four years and realize it is something huge to Big Five teams,” Fitzgerald said. “It is emotional and competitive playing against Big Five teams. As long as you stick to your game plan and do what you have to do, you’ll come out on top.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian