With six minutes, 49 seconds still remaining in Saturday’s game, Temple’s fans started chanting “We want tacos.”
When Temple scores 76 points or more, a Qdoba promotion allows anyone with a ticket to get a free taco. The audience could practically taste their taco as the Owls were within one point of the mark.
The Owls didn’t score on that possession, but it only took 30 seconds for freshman guard Desiree Oliver to sink a free throw that earned the fans their tacos and started another “taco” chant.
Temple’s scoring didn’t stop there in its 86-64 win against Harvard University at McGonigle Hall. The Owls had an early scoring outburst from several players that led to their second-highest scoring game of the season.
“When you make those first couple of threes, it changes your mindset and not just for that one person, but for the next guy,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “That’s just how we are. We feed off of one another.”
Freshman guard Breanna Perry opened the scoring for the Owls (6-2) by knocking down a three to give Temple the lead 58 seconds into the game. After that, Temple didn’t give up the lead for the rest of the game.
After Harvard’s first bucket just more 30 seconds into the game, the Owls went on a 22-0 run jump-started by three 3-pointers.
“It was our game plan to make sure that we shot the ball,” Cardoza said. “You’ve got to make shots to go on runs like that, and we did.”
Perry started the run with a three, and senior guards Khadijah Berger and Tanaya Atkinson followed with 3-pointers.
Temple’s 3-point game shined, especially in comparison to the Crimson, who shot 8-for-38 from beyond the arc. The Owls shot 45.5 percent on 10-for- 22 shooting to record season-highs in 3-point percentage and made 3-pointers.
Temple’s best 3-point shooting game before Saturday came on Nov. 16 against Wagner College when it shot 31.8 percent.
Overall, Temple shot 45.8 percent, second only to its 45.9 percent from the field in its 96-72 victory against Delaware State University on Nov. 10.
Berger, who hadn’t scored in double digits since the first game of the season, went 4-for- 5 from behind the 3-point line to end the night with 12 points and set a season-best for made 3-pointers.
“I know the last couple games I haven’t really been hitting a lot of shots, and I just came into this game with the mindset that the game was going to be difficult,” Berger said. “I just came in confident in myself and came in and hit shots.”
Berger, Atkinson, Oliver and freshman forward Mia Davis all ended the night scoring in double digits. Atkinson scored a game-high 27 points and had 11 rebounds to notch her seventh double-double in eight games.
At the end of the first quarter, Atkinson was on pace to score 48 points and tally a triple-double. She had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. As a team, the Owls were on pace to score 116 thanks to their dominant 29-12 first quarter.
“Tanaya’s just been unbelievable right now in what she’s been able to do,” Cardoza said. “It’s just a credit to her hard work. She’s been doing a really good job of getting in the gym.”