The Temple Owls dropped their first game of the season Saturday on the road against the 19th ranked Florida Gators.
The game wasn’t only the first loss of the season for the Owls, but it was also the first ranked opponent that the Owls have faced this season. Temple, who has received 5 votes to be in the AP Top 25 rankings, drop to 2-1.
The Owls led for the first three quarters, but were outscored in the fourth quarter 34-20, including allowing an 18-2 run to open up the fourth quarter for the Gators.
In the first quarter, Temple started off trailing 5-3 early on; Temple responded with junior Khadijah Berger hitting a pair of threes, and fellow junior Aaliyah Butts hitting another. The trio of threes gave Temple a 12-7 advantage, but Florida countered by scoring five straight points. Temple would eventually end the quarter on a 8-4 run to take a 20-16 lead.
In the second quarter, Temple went on a 7-1 run after the Gators cut the lead to 23-20. The run included Berger hitting her fourth three pointer of the game. The quarter ended on a Florida 4-0 run to cut the Temple lead to 30-26.
Florida started the third quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 33-30 lead. From that point, Temple answered back with a 10-1 run including a pair of threes from Butts, and fellow junior Donnaizha Fountain. The run gave the Owls a 40-35 lead with just over five minutes left in the quarter. After a series of trading baskets for the next couple of minutes, Florida scored on two straight possessions to cut the Temple to 52-49. Temple ended the quarter with baskets coming from both Fountain and Butts, giving Temple a 56-49 advantage.
Despite the lead, the fourth quarter was a nightmare for Temple, who allowed Florida to open up an 18-2 to run in the beginning of the quarter. The run would flip the Temple seven point lead into a Gator nine point advantage. Temple shot only 20% from the field while Florida shot 90%. The Gators led by as many as 12 points before Temple would cut the lead to five points making it a 79-74 game. Ultimately, Florida scored a key basket while the shot clock expired, which would eventually lead to a 83-76 final score.
Senior Feyonda Fitzgerald led the Owls in scoring with 19 points, and one assist shy of notching a double – double. Fitzgerald was followed by junior Tanaya Atkinson who did notch a double – double, scoring 14 points, and grabbing 13 rebounds. Donnaizha Fountain scored 15 points, and grabbed 7 rebounds.
The Owls will be back home next Sunday at McGonigle Hall to take on the Bobcats of Qunnipac University at 2pm.