After Cincinnati’s sixth turnover of the second quarter, Feyonda Fitzgerald inbounded the ball.
The junior guard looked to her left and found sophomore guard Khadijah Berger, who drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to conclude an 8-0 run and even the score at 34 going into halftime.
That momentum carried onto the third quarter for the first four minutes, as Temple outscored the Bearcats 40-17 in the second half to win 74-51 Sunday afternoon at McGonigle Hall.
“I thought it was huge,” coach Tonya Cardoza said of Berger’s 3-pointer. “A lot of us felt good about the position we were in, and it was a great pass to find her in the open corner.”
Temple scored its first points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Fitzgerald and sophomore guard Donnaizha Fountain to take a 6-2 lead. Cincinnati’s first lead of the game came at the 4:40 mark in the first quarter after a layup by Alyesha Lovett.
The Bearcats regained the lead for 65 seconds until sophomore guard Tanaya Atkinson scored her eight points in the final four minutes of the quarter to aid the Owls’ 12-5 run and take a 22-15 advantage. She finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.
At the start of the second quarter, the Bearcats used a 9-0 run to retake the lead, 26-22, and kept Temple scoreless until 5 minutes, 19 seconds remained in the half. The Bearcats led by as many as eight points in the first half.
Temple shot 4-of-18 from the field and was outrebounded 19-8 in the second quarter.
“We weren’t really making shots on the offensive end,” Cardoza said. “We were just not focusing on the defensive side.”
Both Atkinson and Fountain said a lack of on-court communication has hurt them when opposing teams go on scoring runs.
“We don’t really talk in high school like that,” Atkinson said, “You really have to talk because there’s constant movement all over the floor.”
In the second half, the Owls held Lovett, who scored 20 points in the first 15 minutes of the game, to three points.
“We started to back off of [Lovett], and we didn’t overplay her and just defended her a little differently,” Cardoza said. “When we play defense like that, we all feed off of it, and it makes the offensive side of the basketball that much easier.”
After going 0-for-4 from the 3-point line in the first half, Butts connected on 3-of-4 3-point attempts, finishing with 24 points and three steals.
Temple, which is second in the American Athletic Conference in turnover margin, forced 17 turnovers Sunday.
The Owls’ largest lead of the game came with less than a minute remaining after freshman guard Deja Reynolds scored her fourth point of her career on a layup to widen the gap to 74-51.
Fountain recorded her first career double-double, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I felt as if I should be attacking the basket more because that’s what I’ve always been really comfortable with,” Fountain said. “Game by game I’ve been getting that confidence back and going strong.”
Mark McCormick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Twitter @MarkJMcCormick.