Even on the off day after Temple’s loss to Connecticut on Wednesday, Khadijah Berger was at the practice facility with two of her teammates on the third floor of McGonigle Hall.
Berger, senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald and junior guard Alliya Butts were in the facility stretching and talking about what happened in the game against Connecticut while the men’s team practiced in the other room.
Berger, a junior guard, has become the Owls’ sharpshooter off the bench. She trails only fellow junior guards Donnaizha Fountain and Butts in three pointers made on the season and is the team’s second most efficient 3-point shooter at 35.5 percent.
“It’s always good to just come in and score,” Berger said. “But my shooting is definitely something I take pride in. It is something I work on whenever I’m in the gym.”
Berger was a starter for six of the first seven games. After the Owls’ loss to Hampton University on Dec. 7, coach Tonya Cardoza switched the lineup around and Temple went on a 12-game winning streak.
Berger was one of four Owls averaging more than 28 minutes per game at the start of the season.
Now that she comes off the bench, her average has dipped to 21 minutes. She averages 4.5 points and 3.3 attempts from 3-point range per game.
There was an adjustment period for Berger, but much like junior guard Tanaya Atkinson, she has seen how coming off the bench helps her game.
“I mean starting is obviously important,” Berger said. “But coming off the bench lets me see how the game is going, and I can see how they’re defending us and I can react.”
The Owls’ streak ended on Jan. 29 against South Florida, but not without Berger trying to change the outcome. She scored all 11 of her points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers, to bring the Owls within two points after they trailed by as many as 16.
“Khadijah came in and basically changed the game for us, making some shots,” Cardoza said after the loss. “She gave us some life when we needed it.”
When Berger is hitting her shots, she feeds off the energy of the crowd and her teammates, putting three fingers at her side after she makes a shot.
Berger knows Cardoza wants her team to make hustle plays and run the floor.
Berger continued to have the hot hand against Connecticut. She shot 4-for-8 from 3-point range against the top team in the country and helped the Owls outscore the Huskies in the second half. Temple scored more points than any other team in the American Athletic Conference against Connecticut.
“It means we’re more than capable of beating them, they’re just Division I athletes like us,” Berger said. “I think if we came out in the first half with the same intensity in the second half, the outcome of the game would have been completely different.”
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.