PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/14/2016 – What else do you on a frigid day in Philadelphia? Take a trip up North Broad Street to see a two games at Temple. The women played the ten-time national champion Huskies of the University of Connecticut at McGonigle Hall. After that the men’s team, quickly becoming the Cardiac Owls, had a game against the University of South Florida. The day started at a sold out McGonigle Hall. The league leading, top-ranked Huskies meeting the Owls, second place in the American Athletic Conference.
Connecticut 85 Temple 60
UConn came into the game with an impressive 60 game winning streak, the streak extends to 61. Temple had a 6 game streak on the line. It was another 1 vs. 2 game for Connecticut as they met #2 South Carolina in the previous game. Maybe not the same magnitude on a national scale, but it meant a lot for Temple.
The Owls were handily defeated in Storrs, but that would not be the case in this game. The Cherry and White showed a lot of fight. It took awhile for Connecticut to get the knockout, but they finally did in the fourth quarter. For the game Temple had more shots, but UConn got better ones. The Owls were 23 of 74 from the floor (31%), the Huskies were 37 of 63 (58.7%) which led to a 54 – 26 points in the paint edge.
“I am super excited about my team’s performance today,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “For three and a half quarters we really competed, and worked hard going up against a giant, but am happy about the way we conducted ourselves. It is something we should be proud of. We fought and kept fighting, and we were out matched, but that did not stop our effort and desire to compete with them.”
National Player of the Year Brianna Stewart led Connecticut with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 blocks, 4 steals. And a multitude of plays that do not show up in the boxscore, but have a major impact on the court. Moriah Jefferson tied her career-high in points with 25 and added 8 assists and 8 steals, which is a season-high. Gabby Williams tied her career-high in scoring with 19 points with a very efficient 9 of 9 from the floor.
Temple had three players in double figures led by Donnaizha Fountain with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Alliya Butts scored 14 points, and Feyonda Fitzgerald scored 10 points and dished a team-best 4 assists.
Temple led 28 – 27 with 6:39 left in the second quarter. The Huskies pulled ahead, but the Owls stayed in contact tying the game at 30. UConn ended the quarter by going on a 10 – 0 run. Temple missed their last 7 shots and committed 3 turnovers in that last 3:25.
The Owls stayed in contention, but the Huskies would end the third quarter with a 9 – 3 run to get a 14-point lead after 3 quarters of play.
Connecticut was able to establish an ebb and flow to the game where they got stronger as the quarter went on. It showed at the end. Temple played with great effort and enthusiasm. The Owls need to establish that style in games against teams that are not the number one team in the country.
To appreciate how well they Cherry and White played, it needed to be seen, not told by the boxscore.
Now, off to the Liacouris Center to see the men’s team take on the University of South Florida.
Temple 77 USF 65
The Owls have won 5 in a row and 8 of their last 9 beating USF to take over first place in the American with a 10 – 3 conference record, a half game ahead of SMU.
Five Temple players scored in double figures led by Jaylen Bond who had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Josh Brown scored 11 points and added a career-high tying 9 assists. Obi Enechionyia scored 18 points. Quenton DeCosey and Devin Coleman broke the ten-point barrier.
The game had a trend as Temple would establish control only to have USF crawl back into the game. The Owls would answer and the Bulls came back.
“They came out at ease,” Brown said about USF. “We tired to jump on them early. We stuck with it.”
The Cherry and White played efficiently in the initial half. The Owls moved in front 15 – 4 six minutes into the contest. The lead at halftime was 9 points at 40 – 31. Temple had 12 assists on their 17 field goals and only 2 turnovers. However, USF got to within 51 – 47 just under six minutes into the second half.
The Owls answered again with a 13 – 2 run over 5 minutes to lead 64 – 49. The Bulls would get no closer than 9 points after the run.
Turnovers were a key factor as Temple forced 20 which led to a 27 – 7 advantage in points off turnovers.
Jahmal McMurray led all scorers with 24 points and Nehemias Morillo chipped in 16.
Next up for the men is a much anticipated game with top-ranked Villanova on Wednesday.
“It is a special opportunity,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said about playing Villanova. “It is a great opportunity for us. The challenge will be great, but so is the opportunity.”
Now it’s time to go home and wrap myself in some blankets. Did I mention that it is cold on Philly?
Written By: Glenn Papazian
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