UNCASVILLE, CT 3/6/2020 – The Temple Owls won their first round game in the American Women’s Tournament 67 – 57 over the Pirates of ECU and will move on to face top seeded Connecticut in the quarterfinal round. The Owls were led by forward Mia Davis who scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down a contest-best 12 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season. Davis also tied a career-mark with 6 assists and gets a conference tournament win.
“I am excited to get another conference win and an award,” said Davis. “Thanks to my teammates and coaching for putting me in this position.”
Temple got out to an early lead and pulled away winning the second quarter 21 – 10. The Cherry and White owned the inside and had a 14 – 0 edge in points in the paint during that second ten minutes. But it was the positional defense the Owls played that allowed them to get out to a 40 – 25 lead at halftime.
“The last time we played them, we allowed to score the same way over and over,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “Today we stuck with the game plan and forced them to take challenged shots. By switching and different people getting into a rhythm we forced them to do things they did not want to do.”
It looked like Temple would cruise to a first round win. Not so. The Pirates defeated the Owls 56 – 50 late in the season and overcame a 10-point deficit to win it. In this game the hill was 18 points. In the final ten minutes ECU mounted a charge.
Pirates guard Lashonda Monk, who scored a team-high 21 points, began to find the range. The deficit began to shrink and ECU was playing faster.
“I think that my coaches and my teammates pushing me to try to get it in transition and open things up,” said Monk about the comeback. “We really just bought into what they were telling us.”
And Temple turned the ball over 21 times in the game, and it was the main cause of concern for Cardoza.
“I was most concerned about our taking care of the basketball,” said Cardoza. “When we take care of the basketball, they don’t get those easy shots. When we turn it over and they get those easy buckets, they can set up their press.”
ECU got to within 54 – 49 with 5:35 to play in the game. The Cherry and White responded with a 10 – 3 run highlighted by a Marissa Mackins three-pointer that opened up a double-digit lead. Mackins, who scored 11 points, said the Owls stayed calm during that period of time.
“It was a team effort,” Mackins said about holding off ECU. “It was staying composed, not losing our heads, and making the right decision down the stretch.”
Alexa Williamson matched her season-high contributing 12 points . She also pulled down 7 caroms. Davis was 9 for 16 from the floor and made 6 of 7 free throws.
Taniyah Thompson scored 14 points for ECU and had a team-high 7 rebounds. The Pirates finish the year at 9 – 21. They could not overcome the second quarter hill.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole,” said ECU Coach Kim McNeill. “When you’re in tournament play, everybody is playing like it is their last possession. To go down 18 points you have to exert every amount of energy to get back into the game.”
Temple improves to 16 – 14 and will go up against UConn in the next round. The Huskies have not lost an American game. Can Temple claim the only win?
“It’s either win or go home,” said Cardoza. “It’s a great opportunity. No one has beaten them yet. We’e hoping that tomorrow is the day for us.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian