After a poor shooting performance in the first matchup between the two teams, Temple’s shots were falling on Sunday afternoon against South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
Temple (21-5, 11-2 American Athletic Conference) shot 40.6 percent from the floor and 44 percent from 3-point range to even the season series with a 77-71 win against South Florida, ranked No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. 77-71.
Temple, the No. 25 ranked team in Division I, shot 25.8 percent from the field in its game against the Bulls on Jan. 29 at McGonigle Hall.
“Our shots were just falling today, that is something we needed to do,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Last game we couldn’t make anything and that’s what cost us the game but today we just shot a higher percentage and it worked for us.”
Temple jumped out to an early lead after outscoring the Bulls 39-26 in the first half. Junior guard Donnaizha Fountain scored 15 points and senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald scored 11 points to pace the Owls in the first 20 minutes. In the first half, Fitzgerald passed Candice Dupree to move into second place on the Owls’ all-time scoring list. She has 1,711 career points.
Despite the early lead, Temple was outrebounded 28-18 in the first half. Temple lost the rebounding battle by 17 on Sunday.
“They’re a lot bigger than us, and that really showed with how they got 27 second-chance points.” Cardoza said. “Getting second chances is really important for us, since we’re a jump shooting team. We need to get as many looks as we possibly can, and we did alright in that area today but not nearly as good as South Florida.”
In the third quarter, South Florida cut Temple’s lead to just three. In the fourth quarter, the Bulls took their first lead of the second half with a little less than five minutes left. For the next three minutes, the game was back and forth with no team leading by more than three.
But Temple, led by Fitzgerald and Fountain, took control in the last minute of the game. Temple scored 10 of the last 14 points in the final minute and 33 seconds. Fitzgerald scored eight of the last 13 points for the Owls.
Fitzgerald, who hurt her ankle late in the first half but played the whole second half, led the Owls with 23 points. Fountain scored 22.
“She’s in a great rhythm right now, she’s become a lot more aggressive and that’s really helped her game.” Cardoza said of Fountain. “She can shoot and drive, and her game is taking off cause her shots are falling.”
Temple’s next game is on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the road against No. 1 Connecticut, which has won 101 straight games but had a recent scare against Tulane.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.