As Temple struggled to score, shooting 36.1 percent in the first half, junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald kept shooting.
The Norfolk, Virginia native scored 10 points in the second quarter to help Temple defeat Quinnipiac 64-62 in the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament at TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Connecticut. The Owls will host Ohio University on Thursday at McGonigle Hall.
“She was just being super aggressive throughout the game,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “She is really trying to be a leader for us and down the stretch she started scoring for us too.”
With nine lead changes in the first half, Fitzgerald drove under the basket and laid the ball up off the backboard and into the hoop. Fitzgerald’s basket put Temple ahead 31-24 with 1:21 remaining in the first half, the Owls’ biggest lead up to that point in the half.
Quinnipiac’s freshman forward Paula Strautmane who averages 8.5 points per game, scored 19 points, collecting 10 in the first quarter. At halftime, Strautmane scored 12 of Quinnipiac’s 27 points.
With 3:58 remaining in the first half, Morgan Manz subbed in for Strautmane, who committed two fouls. As Strautmane watched from the bench, Temple used a 9-3 run to give the Owls a 35-27 lead at halftime.
“It was huge, we knew coming in that she picks up some fouls and once we saw going into the third quarter we decided to keep attacking her,” Cardoza said. “She is difficult to guard, so we wanted to make her play defense to get her out of the game.”
In the third quarter, Quinnipiac contained Temple defensively as the Owls shot 1-of-6 from the field with 3:11 remaining. Quinnipiac limited sophomore guard Alliya Butts to six points after she scored 24 in Temple’s 74-66 win against Drexel in the first round of the WNIT on Friday.
Quinnipiac lost its leading scorer of the day with 4:14 remaining when Strautmane fouled Fitzgerald, her fifth foul of the game. The Owls held off Quinnipiac as senior guard Erica Covile earned her 18th career double-double, tallying 12 points and 12 rebounds.
This game marked Temple and Quinnipiac’s second meeting this season. The Owls lost 58-56 to the Bobcats in their fourth regular season game of the season Nov. 24, 2015 in Hamden, Connecticut.
After scoring 13 points in her first meeting with Quinnipiac, Fitzgerald led the Owls with 23 points to advance Temple to the WNIT.
“She really wanted to win,” Cardoza said. “She had her teammates really in the game and even when things weren’t going our way, she continued to stay positive and get guys focused on the defensive side.”
Connor Northrup can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org