PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/16/2020 – The Temple Owls entered the game riding a three-game winning streak in the American, four in a row overall. The Owls met the South Florida (USF) Bulls, who won their last three games, in one of the more understated, yet fiercest rivalry in conference.
The Owls are now winners of five consecutive holding off a late USF rally to win 69 – 66 at McGonigle Hall. Junior forward Mia Davis led the Owls with a game-high 25 points, her sixth twenty point game of the season.
“That was a great win for us,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “Lately in our conference people had big leads and specifically, yesterday, two teams had 16 point leads and lost the game. We were able to withstand their run at the end. I’m excited about it and our players are excited about it since its been a long time since we beat South Florida.”
The game was expected to be close. In the first half it was competitively close and statistically close. Temple led 33 – 30 at halftime. In the third quarter the Owls started with a 16 – 5 run making four three-pointers along the way. On defense the Bulls were held to 33% shooting making 5 of 15 from the floor. The lead stretched to 18 points on a traditional three-point play by Davis with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter.
“I felt like we got stops and not let them get anything easy,” said Cardoza about the third quarter run. “They had some turnovers. We were able to score and got ‘and one’s’ so we were coming down the floor getting three points every time.”
It appeared as though the Owls were cruising. But as Lee Corso says “not so fast my friend.”
The Bulls rallied in the fourth quarter starting the final 10 minutes with a 16 – 5 run of their own to get to within 62 – 59 with 3:41 on the clock. Twice on the last 2:20 USF (10 – 7, 2 – 1) got to within two points. The first on a three by Elena Tsineke, who scored a team-high 20 points. The last at 66 – 62 at the 1:46 mark on a jumper by Sydni Harvey, who had 19 points.
Temple closed it out with free throws by Marissa Mackins, Davis, and Ashley Jones, who scored 16 points. The Owls are winning the close ones, a sign of growth.
“Since La Salle, and outside of SMU, the games have been close and we have found a way to win,” Cardoza said. “The growth for me is when you are up and take that and run with it, that’s the growth that I am looking for. When the game is on the line we are finding ways to win it and that’s key.”
Both teams are among the top rebounding teams in the American. The expectation was that it would be tough and physical underneath. Davis said that lived up to its billing.
“They were being very aggressive,” Davis said. “Me and the other post players had to be physical back with them and box out.”
Davis had a team-high 8 rebounds while Bethy Mununga pulled down a game-high 9 caroms. The Bulls outrebounded the Owls 43 – 31.
The victory keeps the Cherry and White on a winning streak and winning makes it fun.
“It’s really exciting because going into the game it motivates you more to keep that streak going,” said Jones. “It’s more exciting going into the next game.”
Temple (11 – 6, 4 – 1) goes on the road to Wichita State on Sunday, then comes home to play Penn. The winner of that game will share the Big Five championship with Villanova.
Written By: Glenn Papazian