Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every week of the women's college basketball season.
For seven quarters of basketball over the past seven days, Temple's Feyonda Fitzgerald put together a really good week. It was the eighth quarter she played that set her apart.
From DePaul. And from the rest of the country.
Temple's Fitzgerald is espnW's player of the week after the senior guard totaled 44 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and seven steals in victories against No. 17 DePaul and at Rutgers. Temple's win over the Blue Demons was its first against a ranked nonconference opponent in nearly a decade, since a win against Purdue in 2007 when Fitzgerald was in middle school.
Add those results to a win the previous weekend against Villanova, a game in which Fitzgerald scored 20 points, and the Owls have three consecutive victories against teams from traditionally bigger leagues. That is one fewer than they earned the past three seasons combined.
But if Fitzgerald was a lonely source of offensive optimism in Saturday's somewhat dour 48-37 win at Rutgers -- she scored 19 points in 40 minutes to help the Owls move to 7-3 -- her fourth quarter against DePaul made the week.
Fitzgerald led all scorers with 25 points in the 84-74 victory over the Blue Demons, with both the scoring distinction and the result impressive enough against the likes of Jessica January. Each was made all the more remarkable by the fact Fitzgerald entered the final quarter with just 10 points.
She scored seven points in the first half as teammate Alliya Butts shot the Owls into contention when the teams traded big quarters. Then a lot of work from Donnaizha Fountain and Ruth Sherrill turned a one-point halftime deficit into a small third-quarter advantage. But with that lead at just two points, Fitzgerald hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left in the third quarter to put the Owls up 55-50. She was just getting started.
Fitzgerald engineered a 5-0 run all of her own early in the fourth quarter, capped by a three-point play that pushed the lead to 12 points. When the Blue Demons made one attempt to rally, Fitzgerald hit a 3-pointer that wiped out the push. When a late surge by DePaul cut the deficit to single digits, she hit two free throws to push it back to double digits. When Temple's lead twice dipped to seven points, she again knocked down free throws. She attempted nine free throws in the quarter and hit eight.
It was just over a year ago that Fitzgerald scored a career-best 32 points in a win against Florida. Yet she was reminded that points are relative earlier this month when it took her 27 field goal attempts to produce 29 points in a loss at Hampton. Against the Blue Demons, and never more than with each fraught possession in the final quarter, she scored the most meaningful of points.
DePaul scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and didn't make up any ground.
It picked the wrong game to test Temple's leading scorer.
Also considered: Alaina Coates, South Carolina; Ashley Deary, Northwestern; Diamond DeShields, Tennessee; Chanette Hicks, Virginia Tech; Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State