PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/7/2019 – The Temple Owls hosted former coach and Philadelphia basketball legend Dawn Staley as the South Carolina Gamecocks visited the Temple Owls. The coaches, Staley and Tonya Cardoza, have a long standing relationship as both played together at Virginia.
The Owls and the Gamecocks came in off victories. Temple defeated Towson and #6 South Carolina won the Paradise Jam upsetting #2 Baylor in the final.
The game is what mattered and Temple put forth the effort they needed to, but South Carolina pulled away down the stretch to earn a 78 – 71 win over the upset-minded Owls. The Cherry and White also gave a look at who they can be.
“The fact that we competed against the number six team in the country and the All-Americans that they have, that’s a big deal that we were able to compete like that,” Cardoza said. “It means nothing if we come out the rest of the season and don’t compete like that. What I expect and harp on is paying attention and being disciplined. If you do that, you’re going to be in every game and there is a good chance you’re going to win most of them with what we have.”
The victory was a relief for Staley playing in her home town.
“I don’t like coming home having the stress of winning basketball games,” Staley said.
The Gamecocks started well early and grabbed a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter. The Owls were doing what they needed to do clamping down in the defensive end, rebounded, and got some scoring to pull to within 37 – 33 at halftime.
Temple took the lead early in the third quarter on a three-pointer by guard Marissa Mackins, who scored a career-high 26 points . The game went on the see-saw for awhile with the Gamecocks holding a 4-point lead going into the final 10 minutes, then put then game away behind a 16 – 5 run in the first five and a half minutes.
“We responded,” said Staley. “We are a team trying to find some consistency and play high-level basketball when we step on the floor. We’re not there yet, but at the end of the day we made plays when we needed to make plays.”
Temple had a height disadvantage, but managed to out rebound South Carolina 50 – 46. However the Gamecocks had 21 offensive boards which led to a 22 – 13 edge in second chance points. Mia Davis had a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with 14 points to record her 6th double-double of the season and 23rd in her career.
“It was a little tough being they were bigger, so being competitive with them, boxing them out was a good thing,” Davis said about battling on the boards.
Lena Niang set a career-mark pulling down 11 rebounds and added 10 points for her first collegiate double-double.
“I think Lena’s focus is something different,” Cardoza said about the growth of Niang. “She is more determined to pay attention and try to be a leader. We need that leadership. I liked the fact that her mindset was on rebounding and playing defense.”
The turnovers and fast breaks given up proved to be the difference. The Gamecocks forced 19 Owls turnovers which led to a 22 – 8 points off turnover edge and 18 – 5 in fast break points. Can’t give up easy baskets. South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson had 5 of the 13 steals, a career-best. Tyasha Harris had 4 swipes.
The Gamecocks had five players score in double figures led by Harris who scored 21 points and dished out 7 assists. Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan put in 15 points and Henderson added 12. Aliyah Boston and Brea Beal contributed 10 points apiece.
Temple evens their record at 5 – 5 for the season, and prepare for a Big Five game when they host Villanova on Tuesday. It is a chance to see if this effort will carry over.
“Our effort tonight was better than the past few games,” said Mackins. “If we keep playing like this, I do feel like we can be successful.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian