Scoring a career-high 32 points, 25 of which were in the second half, Morris kept the kids screaming and hollering during the Owls 66-53 win over Charlotte Wednesday. The victory extended Temple’s winning streak to seven, and improved the Owls (14-10, 7-1 Atlantic Ten Conference) to a perfect 6-0 on Dawn Staley Day.
For the game, Morris, the 5-foot-5 Philadelphia native shot 10-for-17 from the floor, including 7-of-10 from downtown.
“I think she’s one of the crowd favorites because of her size and her ability to lead her team to victory,” coach Dawn Staley said about Morris. “Ashley’s been the cornerstone of this team when we’re winning and when we’re losing. She has a direct reflection on the outcome of the game, and I think she’s playing extremely well.”
Before Morris took over the game in the second half, it was Shanea Cotton who was setting her own records.
Cotton tied her career high in the first half, scoring 13 points. She also had seven rebounds and three blocks in the first 20 minutes.
“I got tired of feeling like I wasn’t contributing,” said Cotton, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and four blocks. “I felt like I needed to step it up.”
Staley was impressed with the play of both players.
“I thought they played exceptionally well,” said Staley. “Both of them played like they didn’t want to lose. Both of them played like we wanted to separate ourselves from the [teams] that we’re tied with, [and] from the [teams] that are close in the Atlantic Ten.”
The teams that had been tied with the Owls entering Wednesday were George Washington and Xavier, who are both 6-1 in the A-10.
On cue, the Owls will be traveling to Ohio on Saturday to face off with the Musketeers of Xavier (16-6).
Temple will be looking for revenge.
The teams last met in March 2007 for the A-10 Championship game, and the Musketeers won 54-53, stealing the championship trophy the Owls held for three consecutive seasons.
“The sour taste of them beating us in the Atlantic Ten Tournament last year — there’s a loss that we need to avenge,” Staley said. “Some [of our players] didn’t want to lose our Atlantic Ten title there [in Ohio] and to the particular team, or to any team. [But] they edged us out.
“[We need to] do the same approach we had, [but] just [get] better contributions from different people,” Staley added. “I like the match-up. I think the schedule that we play will prepare us to play in the type of environment we’ll probably face on Saturday night.”
Though the Owls have been winning, Staley isn’t ready to guarantee an A-10 trophy.
“I think anytime you start winning it feels good,” she said. “We’re trying to be the No. 1 team in the A-10, [but] we have to take better care of the basketball. It’s not like we’re being pressured into the types of turnovers that we’re having. We have lapses both offensively and defensively. That’s probably due to our youth. They’re not used to being in situations like this.
“We had hoped that playing the schedule that we play, the [younger players] could feel a little bit more comfortable in tough situations, but that just takes time,” Staley said.
Morris knows this Temple squad is a different team than the one that won the A-10 title two years ago, but she’s ready for the new challenge.
“This is a different team. We’ve got a lot of new players in here,” she said. “We just do everything with Temple pride. It’s all about Temple with us, and we reiterate that all the time.”
Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.