Around the American: Temple Owls soar away from USF Bulls, UCF nipping at heels

Tulane guard Tene Thompson (15) blocks Connecticut guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in New Orleans, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Sophia Germer)

The big conference matchup of the week in the AAC for women’s basketball was Sunday’s matchup between 2nd place Temple and 3rd place USF, as the Owls knocked off the Bulls in Florida 77-71. For the Temple Owls (21-5, 11-2 the American) Feyonda Fitzgerald scored 23 points and Donnaizha Fountain 22 points and the Owls are now riding a five game winning streak.

After defeating middle of the pack SMU by 14 in Philadelphia, the vaulted into second place in the conference when they beat nationally ranked USF on the road, handing the Bulls only their third home loss. Earlier in the week, the USF Bulls (20-6, 9-4 the American) dropped another game at home to the UCF Knights. The Bulls have now lost three of their last five and find themselves third in the conference.

The UCF Knights started off their week with a road win at USF as junior Aliyah Gregory had a career-high 34 points in the “War on I4” contest inside the Sun Dome. The victory is the first for the Knights over a ranked opponent in their Division I era, as the Knights were able to keep rolling with a 28 point victory at home over the last place East Carolina Pirates (10-17, 1-13 the American). UCF has now won four games in a row and are tied for fourth with Cincinnati in the AAC.

The fourth place Cincinnati Bearcats (16-10, 7-6 the American) were one of four teams to go 1-1 this week and were joined by SMU, Memphis and Tulane. The Bearcats were able to down the Memphis Tigers (13-13, 6-7 the American) behind junior forward Shanice Johnson’s 11th double-double on the season. Their loss of the week came at the hands of the Tulane Green Wave (16-11, 7-7 the American) who almost shocked the women’s basketball road in beating the UConn Huskies but fell by only three points at home.

Joining the Bulls in going 0-2 this week were the Pirates and the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (4-10, 8-19 the American). Tulsa has now lost five games in a row as they dropped a game to Houston and are in danger of the Cougars passing them for the ninth seed in the conference tournament.

The Cougars were the lone bright spot for the bottom of the AAC conference as they went 1-0 in the week with the three point victory on the road over the Golden Hurricanes. In the win, senior center Jacqueline Blake scored a career-high 22 points and the Cougars secured the season sweep of the Golden Hurricane after also defeating Tulsa 71-66 on Jan. 1.

Looking ahead, USF will look to snap their losing streak on the road in Houston on Tuesday. There are four games on Wednesday and five on Saturday. The big games to look forward to are the Owls against UConn on Wednesday because both teams have the largest winning streaks in the conference and UCF against Tulane on Wednesday as the Knights look to make it five in a row.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.