First-place Temple beats Rice for fifth straight win

Temple Women’s Basketball’s big first half propelled them past Rice 75-66 Sunday afternoon, securing its fifth straight win and remaining in first place in the AAC.

Temple Guard Tarriyonna Gary scored 20 points as Temple Women's Basketball defeated Rice 75-66, to win its fifth straight game | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Women’s Basketball entered Sunday on a four-game winning streak, largely thanks to the team’s ability to start strong and control the pace of play. The team helped force a shot clock violation on Rice’s first possession and broke off a quick 6-0 run, prompting a Rice timeout just two minutes into the game. 

Temple carried that momentum throughout the game and cruised to its third win in a week and fifth-straight win, the program’s longest win streak since 2019.

Temple (17-10, 11-4 American Athletic Conference) took down Rice (15-12, 9-7 AAC) 75-66 Sunday afternoon in Houston. The team maintained its lead in the conference standings with just three games remaining in the regular season.

“We’re gonna see [three games in one week] in the tournament,” said Temple head coach Diane Richardson. “To prepare for [that], we’ve got to do that when we get to the tournament. We’re not letting that be an excuse because we want to stay focused on each game.”

Temple came out of the locker room on fire to start the game. They built up a double-digit lead in the first quarter on 57 percent shooting from the field. Guard Tarriyonna Gary anchored the quick start, racking up 13 first-quarter points on perfect shooting from the field. 

Rice climbed back into the game with three minutes left in the first quarter, tying it up at 16 apiece. Temple responded by ending the period on a 10-0 run, capped off by a three-pointer from Gary, and Temple did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. 

The offense carried Temple against Rice, shooting 42 percent from the field and a season-high 58 percent from three. Temple drilled 10 threes, which was the first time the team hit double-digit threes since its season-opening win against Delaware State on Nov. 6. 

“The game the other day was not typical Temple offense,” Richardson said. “They got in the gym and worked on their shots, and I could kind of tell it was going to be one of those games.”

Five Temple players scored in double figures. Gary led the way with 20 points on 7-8 shooting, and forward Rayne Tucker added 10 and pulled down 13 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. Guard Tiarra East also had a double-double, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Gary remained confident despite poor shooting against UTSA on Feb. 22, and she was an integral contributor to the win.  

“It was just the confidence factor,” Richardson said. “I knew it was going to be a tough game coming in and our ladies shot the lights out. T-Mac was 5-5 from three which is a nice percentage.”

Temple also smothered Rice on the other end of the floor, holding them to just 34 percent shooting from the field. Temple shut down Rice’s leading scorer guard Dominique Ennis, holding her scoreless for the whole game. 

Rice started to close the gap in the third quarter, bringing Temple’s lead down to as little as seven. Guard Tristen Taylor, back in her home state, shut down any hopes of a Rice comeback by putting up nine points and hitting three shots from behind the arc in the third quarter. She finished with 14 points and six assists.

“We called her a fearless freshman in the beginning of the season,” Richardson said. “We saw that today. We were in her home state, so I think she is pretty confident playing in Texas.”

Temple was shorthanded despite the win, as guard Demi Washington did not suit up after leaving last game against UTSA early with a leg injury. Washington felt sore before the game and sat out to avoid further injury, Richardson said.

Temple will return home to try and push its winning streak to six games against Tulsa (19-8, 9-5 AAC) on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.

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