BY: MELISSA PAYAVIS
The American Athletic Conference Tournament was held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut this past weekend, where Temple fell to USF, 63-58, in the semifinal round. This was the third time these two teams met this season, with each team grabbing a win on the road in their previous two contests.
The weekend started off with an award ceremony to honor Head Coach Tonya Cardoza as the 2017 AAC Coach of the Year. This was her first time winning the award in the AAC. Cardoza was the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year in 2011, along with being Big Five Coach of the Year from 2009 to 2011.
The second seeded Owls got to work on Saturday night against the Houston Cougars, where they took the game by a score of 67-58. Senior Feyonda Fitzgerald broke an AAC record for most points scored in a tournament game, as she poured in 30 on the night. Tanaya Atkinson recorded a double-double, nabbing 16 points and bringing in 12 rebounds.
Following that victory, Temple met USF in the semifinals on Sunday night after the Bulls defeated SMU, 62-55, in the previous round. This match proved to be another challenge for the Owls, as the two teams remained within 10 points of each other for almost the entire game.
“I felt like we started second-guessing ourselves, thinking that it wasn’t going to be open, but every time we got in there we got something good, whether it was a foul or a layup,” Cardoza said. “The game plan was to dribble penetrate and make them have to guard us off the bounce, but I mean, for whatever reason we settled for the jump shot.”
USF grabbed 42 boards compared to Temple’s 36. The Owls weren’t able to stop the Bulls’ momentum from downtown, allowing them to go 3-7 from three-point range in the second half. While it was a tough loss for Temple, the team will get a clean slate in the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket will be announced on Monday, March 13th. Temple is currently projected as an eighth seed by ESPN’s Charlie Creme.
Feature Image Courtesy: Owlsports.com