Cardoza’s lineup change sends Temple women’s basketball on 9-game streak

The Owls have garnered national attention during their recent win streak.

Coach Tonya Cardoza consoles junior guard Alliya Butts in the third quarter of the Owls’ 78-47 win against East Carolina on Wednesday. GENEVA HEFFERNAN | FILE PHOTO

After the Owls’ loss to Hampton University on Dec. 7, coach Tonya Cardoza made a lineup change, replacing junior guards Tanaya Atkinson and Khadijah Berger with senior forward Ruth Sherrill and junior guard Donnaizha Fountain in the starting five.

The Owls haven’t lost a game since.

Temple’s offense has been hot in its nine-game win streak, which includes beating a ranked DePaul University squad and four American Athletic Conference wins. The Owls have scored at least 73 points in seven of the games and at least 80 points three times.

Temple is averaging 73.6 points per game in its streak. Temple received two votes in Monday’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

“We’re just taking every game one game at a time,” Cardoza said. “We’re not looking forward to [games against South Florida and Connecticut], we’re not worried about them at all. We just look at who we are playing next and get focused on that.”

Junior guard Donnaizha Fountain prepares to drive to the net in the second half of the Owls’ 78-47 win against East Carolina Wednesday. GENEVA HEFFERNAN | ASST. PHOTO EDITOR
Junior guard Donnaizha Fountain prepares to drive to the net in the second half of the Owls’ 78-47 win against East Carolina Wednesday. GENEVA HEFFERNAN | ASST. PHOTO EDITOR

Senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald took over as the Owls’ predominant ball handler in the team’s first four games in The American. So far in conference play, Fitzgerald is the Owls’ leading scorer with 20 points per game and is setting up her teammates by averaging 8.5 assists per game.

She also recorded a career-high 13 assists on Jan. 8 against Tulane. Fitzgerald is averaging 7.2 assists per game this season, which ranks seventh in Division I.

“Whenever my shot isn’t falling I’m always looking for my teammates, I always have my head up,” Fitzgerald said. “My teammates really do the rest, they make the shots when I give them the ball.”

In the midst of their winning streak, the Owls have achieved several milestones.

Junior guard Alliya Butts made her 172nd career 3-pointer on Dec. 22 against Fairfield University to break Temple’s all-time record. In the team’s next game, an overtime win against Memphis, Cardoza won her 173rd career game to pass Dawn Staley for first place on the Owls’ all-time wins list.

One week later, Atkinson joined Butts and Fitzgerald as members of the 1,000-point club with a layup against Tulane. The most recent record fell on Wednesday against East Carolina. Fitzgerald’s first assist of the night gave her sole possession of the Owls’ all-time assists record.

The Owls have been blowing out opponents in their streak. They have won seven of the nine games by double digits, and three by at least 30 points. These margins of victory have pushed Temple to the 44th best scoring margin in Division I. The Owls are outscoring opponents by an average of 12.3 points per game.

The only two teams in The American with better scoring margins than Temple are South Florida and Connecticut, which is ranked No. 1 and on a historic 91-game winning streak, beating a stretch of 90 wins by the Huskies from 2008-10 for the most consecutive wins in Division I history. Both teams are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

Temple will play both teams in two straight home games on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1.

Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.

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