PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/29/2020 – Two teams close in record, close in the standings in the American. And the game was as close as the records going down to the last shot.
UCF had the ball with 5.6 seconds to play trailing by two. The Knights got the ball to Sianni Martin, a Neumann-Goretti grad, who got a good look at the basket and let go a shot just outside of the paint as the horn sounded. It was off the mark and the Temple Owls won a 67 – 65 thriller at McGonigle Hall. Temple improves to 5 – 3 in the American staying in touch with the top four teams in the league. It also ended a four game losing streak for the Owls against the Knights.
“That was a great win for us,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “We found a way to pull another game that was close at home. I don’t remember the last time we beat them so, we got that off our back.”
The game was tied at halftime. Temple exploded on a third quarter run ignited by guard Marissa Mackins who scored a game-high 22 points. She made four three-pointers in an 18 – 6 run which gave the Cherry and White their largest lead at 48 – 36 with 3:31 remaining. Mackins drained 5 from beyond the arc in the game.
UCF answered with a 9 point run to end the third getting back to within 48 – 45 with the final ten minutes remaining.
The Owls maintained separation with Ashley Jones scoring 10 of the next 12 team points. She scored a total of 13 points. Not for long as the Knights got to within two-points. Mackins made two foul shots and a basket by Mia Davis, who scored 12 points, put Temple in front by 66 – 60 at the 2:18 mark.
UCF got the next five to pull to within a point on a three-point bank shot by Georgia Gayle with just over a half minute to play.
Time for the Owls to turn up the defense and they forced a turnover at the 5.9 second mark. Mackins went to the line and made another free throw for the final points. And set up the final possession.
The Owls closed the game out at the line, and by doing the right things in end of game situations.
“Down the stretch we have to make free throws,” said Cardoza. “It’s something we work on in practice. But it also keeping the ball in the right hands down the stretch, making sure the guys who are going to get to the line are our best free throw shooters.”
Four Owls scored in double figures. Lena Niang added 12 points. Mackins dished out 5 assists. With the outside shooters getting it going, it gave the Owls more options and the Knights needed to make more adjustments.
“If I am getting three’s or if Lena (Niang) is getting three’s as a team it opens up the inside because the other team is worried about our shooting. They are not as concerned about Mia, Alexa (Williamson) or Shannen (Atkinson) inside so we can get the ball to them to score as well.”
In the rebounding battle Temple got 41 caroms to 30, and won the offensive boards 10 – 6 for a ten-point advantage in second chance points. Alexa Williamson pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds.
“It was huge,” Cardoza said about the impact of the advantage off the boards. “We talked about it after the game that we held them to six offensive rebounds. That was a reason why we lost last year at their place, giving up offensive rebounds.”
The Owls (13 – 8) take the court again next week hosting Wichita State on Wednesday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian