At the start of the fourth quarter, it was a two-point game. Temple and Marist College were battling for the lead, which changed 13 times by the end of the game.
But 16 seconds into the fourth, freshman guard Emani Mayo, who had gone 0-for-8 up to that point, took a 3-point shot. She made it.
About 30 seconds later, junior forward Lena Niang banked in a 3-pointer, kicking off a “domino effect,” as coach Tonya Cardoza called it.
“It’s been like this for years now,” Cardoza said. “Lena makes one, and then Emani makes one, and Lena makes one, and then they all feel really good about themselves.”
The momentum helped Temple beat Marist 83-77 on Saturday at McGonigle Hall. The Owls are now 8-3.
Temple’s fourth quarter performance gave the team the 33-point boost it needed to win. In the fourth, the Owls shot 81.8 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from behind the 3-point line. The Owls also went 9-for-15 in free throws attempts.
“I felt like we got into a little rhythm and once they started falling, then everybody started shooting them and being confident,” Cardoza said.
Niang led the Owls in 3-pointers, finishing with six for the night and setting a new team-best in 3-pointers made in a game this season. She was 6-for-8 from behind the arc. Niang ended with 18 points, beating her previous career-high of six.
“After I made the first one, I was kind of hot,” Niang said. “So my teammates, they kept telling me, ‘Alright, you’ve got it.’ So after that, it built up my confidence.”
Combined, Niang and Mayo scored more than half of Temple’s points from behind the 3-point line. Temple went 13-for-30, while the duo went 9-for-16. Mayo had been held scoreless until the the final quarter where she scored 11 points.
Despite Temple’s 3-point scoring success, Cardoza wasn’t particularly pleased with the team’s frequency of shooting beyond the arc.
“If we move the ball a little more, if we push the ball in transition, we might get different shots, but I don’t like settling for threes,” Cardoza said. “I mean if we’re passing the ball around and that’s the best shot, that’s something different, but I felt like we settled for a lot of jump shots.”
At the end of the half, senior guard Tanaya Atkinson had been held to nine points and hadn’t attempted a free throw yet. She currently ranks first in free throw attempts in Division I with 100 attempts.
“I also felt like I wasn’t being aggressive enough,” Atkinson said. “I felt like I shied away and I started shooting jumpers, but I think I switched it in the second half.”
By the end of the game, the Owls had 19 free throw attempts. Atkinson went 6-for-9 at the free throw line, which brought her total point tally to 25.
Freshman forward Mia Davis was also one of four Owls who scored in double digits. Davis ended with 18 points and 15 rebounds, notching her third double double of the season.
“I thought Mia really got in there and got some key defensive rebounds for us that helped out,” Cardoza said. “What I like most about her on the defensive side is that she is looking to communicate with her teammates and call out screens and help people out.”
Temple out-rebounded the Red Foxes 43-27 and the Owls used their 13 offensive rebounds to score 18 second chance points.
Despite Temple’s rebounding success, Cardoza said the team’s defense could’ve performed better. The Owls had a block and five steals and let Marist shoot 48.4 percent from the field. The Owls also allowed redshirt-sophomore forward Alana Gilmer, who previously averaged 11 points per game, to score 24.
“We’ve got to get better defensively,” Cardoza said. “So we’ve got to get back to the basics and make sure that we’re shutting down, defending people, and not allowing their best players to hurt us.”
Next, the Owls will take on defending NCAA Tournament champion, the University of South Carolina on Dec. 21 at the Liacouras Center. The Owls will also retire the number of former forward Candice Dupree during the game. Dupree played under coach Dawn Staley, who is now the South Carolina coach.
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