UNCASVILLE, CT 3/4/2017 – The Temple Owls behind a conference tournament record 30 points by senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald over came the 10th seeded Houston Cougars 67 – 58 and move on to the American semifinal round. Fitzgerald made 10 of 21 from the floor and made 8 of 10 from the stripe. In addition she handed out a game-high 7 assists. Her focus was on the team and winning.
“I was unaware of that,” said Fitzgerald when asked if she knew she was setting a record. “I wasn’t worried about my points, I was just doing what I had to do to help my team.”
The game did not start well for either team on offense. The Owls were able to stay ahead by their work on the boards, winning the stat by a 40 – 33 margin. However, it was on the offensive glass that helped the Cherry and White getting 15 to get an 18 – 6 edge in second chance points.
“Even the shots that we missed were all good shots,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “They just weren’t falling, so we had to make sure we got second chance opportunities.”
Fellow back court mate Alliya Butts scored 19 points as she made 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. Tanaya Atkinson, who won the conference 6th Player of the Year Award and a Connecticut resident, recorded her 9th double-double of the season scoring 16 points and taking down 12 boards, 7 on offense. All but 2 points came from Fitzgerald, Butts, and Atkinson.
Forward Ruth Sherrill grabbed 15 misses. Her career-high was 19 that came in a game at Houston in January. It was she who scored the other two points for the Cherry and White.
For Houston Angela Harris and Jacqueline Blake scored a team-best 15 points for the 12 – 19 Cougars. With an increased number of conference victories and a win in the opening round Houston is trending in the right direction.
“It’s big especially for the freshmen,” said Harris. “It was good for us to get a win in this tournament and build that for next year because I know what we are capable of. To get a win here is big. And to beat Cincinnati, a team that beat us twice, getting over the hump is big for us.”
Temple moves on to the conference semifinal round, their second conference tournament win. It is an accomplishment of meaning to a team that just might have solidified a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“It means a lot, we work hard each and every day and during the summer,” Fitzgerald said. “To know that it’s paying off and we able able to advance to the semifinals in the conference tournament means it is paying off.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian