WRITTEN BY: MELISSA PAYAVIS
It was a disappointing loss for the Owls on Sunday as they fell short to the #23 USF Bulls, 55-51. This not only marked Temple’s first conference loss of the season, but also its first at home, effectively ending its 12-game winning streak.
Both teams entered the game sporting a 16-3 record, with Temple being undefeated in conference play and USF’s one conference loss coming against the #1 UConn Huskies. Temple led the game for only 1:10 minutes total, allowing USF to grab seven offensive rebounds in the first half and giving them more opportunities to score. By halftime, the Bulls had turned the ball over 10 times, but Temple couldn’t seem to turn these turnovers into buckets. The Owls trailed 29-18 at the half, tied for their lowest halftime score of the season.
The third quarter produced the same results as the first and second. USF gave up more than twice the amount of turnovers as Temple, but the Owls only put up 11 points compared to USF’s 14.
In the fourth, junior guard Khadijah Berger came onto the court and provided immediate help for the Owls. Temple put up 22 points in the final 9 minutes, 11 of which came from Berger. But Temples 22-12 run wasn’t enough to bring down the Bulls, with the closest margin being two points with 0:33 to go.
Coach Tonya Cardoza blamed the performance on the shift of focus from the team to the individual, as well as the team getting down on themselves instead of looking ahead to the next play.
“I felt like because shots weren’t falling for us early in the first half, we started worrying more about that and not focusing on the defensive side and getting stops,” Coach Cardoza said. “For us, it’s never about the offensive side it’s always about the defensive side, and I thought today we focused more on the offense.”
Senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald didn’t put up as impressive numbers as usual. She managed to lead the Owls in scoring with 14 points, but went 3-20 from the field with no three pointers. The next leading scorer of the day was Alliya Butts, who put up 12 points, but shot 2-10 from beyond the three point line.
The Owls will host #1 UConn on Wednesday night at 7pm at the Liacouras Center.