Junior guard Donnaizha Fountain let out a scream and flexed after making a layup and drawing a foul to put her team up by three points in the middle of the third quarter.
Just minutes earlier Fountain and the Owls were trailing by seven and in danger of losing their first game since Dec. 7.
Fountain’s basket was part of Temple’s 16-0 third-quarter run in its 66-51 win against Memphis on Saturday at McGonigle Hall. The victory gave Temple (15-3, 6-0 American Athletic Conference) its 11th win in a row.
The Owls trailed by seven with nine minutes, 36 seconds left in the third quarter before scoring 16 straight points over the game’s next 3:10 to build a nine-point advantage.
During the run, senior forward Ruth Sherrill scored nine of her 13 points. Most of her points came through fast break layups.
“I was covering a shooter, so I was able to leak out,” Sherrill said. “I had faith in my teammates to secure the rebound and I was able to get passed the ball out in front of the defense.”
Temple continued to add to its lead after the run in the third quarter. The Owls outscored Memphis 25-7 in the third frame and stretched their lead to as many as 22 points late in the fourth quarter.
“I think as a team we stepped it up on defense, we’re a team that feeds off of our defensive energy,” Fountain said. “That’s was really got us going in the third quarter, we just had a more aggressive mindset.”
Fountain was the Owls’ leading scorer in both the first and second half. She scored 10 points in the first half and then added nine more in the second half to finish with 19 points for the second time in her last three games.
Before the offensive explosion in the second half, Temple trailed for almost the entire first half. Memphis played a zone defense that tried to trap the Owls when they crossed halfcourt and forced eight first-half turnovers.
Memphis shot well from 3-point range in the first half, made five of their eight 3-point attempts, and shooting 40 percent from the floor.
“We were playing off of certain guys, and we were allowing them to shoot,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “When you’re playing off of someone you can’t just stand there, that’s like playing in an open gym by themselves. We weren’t putting a hand up to make the shooters less open in the first half, but we got better with that in the second half.”
The win puts Temple a half game in front of Connecticut for first place in the American Athletic Conference.
Temple’s next game is against the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday. Temple has a chance to win the Big 5 outright and go undefeated in Big 5 play for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.
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