Owls look to correct shooting woes

Sophomore guard Khadijah Berger drives the ball in the Owls’ 78-48 win against Houston at McGonigle Hall. | DONALD OTTO TTN FILE PHOTO

With three games remaining in the regular season, Temple is trying to solve its recent shooting trouble before its postseason fate is decided.

In the last two games—losses to Memphis and undefeated Connecticut—two of Temple’s Top 3 scorers—sophomore guards Alliya Butts and Tanaya Atkinson—have shot less than 31 percent from the field.

As a result, the Owls are on their first two-game skid since losing at UConn on Jan. 16 and to the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 21.

“We’re mentally hurting, so we have to get back on track and focus our next game against Tulane,” junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald said. “We just have to handle business in the [American Athletic Conference] tournament, hoping we get to the championship, so we can have a chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament.”

After a 100-97 five-overtime loss to Memphis on Thursday, the Owls are No. 68 in the Rating Percentage Index, which is third best in the conference.

This season, Temple ranks sixth in field goal percentage in The American, fifth in 3-point percentage and ninth in free throw percentage.

In a Feb. 14 loss to UConn, which snapped a six-game winning streak, the Owls shot 23-for-74 from the floor.

In the loss to Memphis last Thursday, Temple finished 5-of-26 from behind the arc, or 19.2 percent. It was the team’s lowest 3-point shooting performance since the Owls went 2-of-16 from 3-point range in a 55-35 victory against Southern Methodist on Feb. 3.

“After most of our losses, they go back and think about all the things they could have done differently,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We talked about that at the beginning of the season, we don’t want to look back at games if we had done this, if we had done that.”

Temple is one win away from matching its total conference win from last season, and the Owls are three wins away from back-to-back 20-win seasons. One of Temple’s final three games is a Feb. 27 matchup with South Florida, the No. 21 team in the AP Top 25 poll.

“We don’t want the opportunity of making the tournament slip away,” sophomore guard Khadijah Berger said. “We’ve been trying to focus on things we need to do and make sure we accomplish our goals for the end of the season.”

Since The American formed two seasons ago, only four teams from the conference have received bids to the NCAA Women’s Division I Tournament. In the 2015 tournament, five conferences had five or more teams receive bids.

“Besides UConn, we have a couple of teams that are good and deserve in the NCAA Tournament to show what our conference is actually about,” Fitzgerald said. “We are just going to focus on us and try to win games and represent our conference and ourselves.”

Fitzgerald said a winning streak to conclude the regular season could move the Owls back into a favorable position to make a postseason push into the NCAA Tournament.

“We have a chance to make it as long as we buckle down from here on out,” Fitzgerald said. “That consists of winning games.”

Mark McCormick can be reached at mark.mccormick@temple.edu.

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