Owls defeat Tigers in conference opener

Temple Women’s Basketball secured a 80-69 win against the University of Memphis to open conference play Friday afternoon at The Liacouras Center.

Senior guard Aleah Nelson prepares to make a move with the ball against freshman guard Tanyuel Welch on Dec. 30 at The Liacouras Center. | EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Women’s Basketball (6-7, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) pulled off an 80-69 win against the University of Memphis (8-6, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) in their opening game of conference play Friday afternoon.

The Owls utilized defense, an uptempo offense and three-point shooting to dominate the last three quarters of Friday’s game. Temple forced Memphis to take tough layups and defend in transition to pick up their fourth win of the last six games. The Owls also ran the Tigers off the three-point line in the second half, holding them to 2-of-7 from deep as opposed to the 5-of-11 Memphis shot in the first half.

“[Senior guard Aleah Nelson, sophomore guard Jasha Clinton and sophomore guard Aniya Gourdine] can score and then we have them that can pass the ball,” said head coach Diane Richardson. “So they have the three of them working together. We get scoring, we get speed, we get assists and this was the first time being able to put that combination together.”

Memphis started the game on a 7-0 run before Temple’s offense scored. The slow start for the Owls continued throughout the first quarter with Temple shooting 31.3 percent from the field while Memphis shot 41.2 percent. Senior guard Madison Griggs led the Tigers with seven points en route to a 23-15 score at the end of the first.

The Owls then completely controlled the second quarter with Nelson scoring 11 points. Temple also played team defense, forcing four turnovers and limiting Memphis to only 11 points in the quarter, leading to a 20-3 Temple run to go into the half up 45-34. 

Despite starting 0-of-3 from the field in the first quarter, Nelson put together a solid performance. She finished with 20 points and continues to be the Owls’ primary scoring option, averaging 15.8 points per game. These stats place Nelson sixth in the AAC in scoring, 10th in field goal percentage and fifth in three-point percentage.

“It’s really just the confidence from my teammates,” Nelson said. “Everyone’s telling me keep shooting, don’t stop shooting the ball just because you missed the first three shots.”

After the half, Memphis tried to regain control of the game, but Temple held on by shooting 45.3 percent from the field to secure their win. 

In addition to the Owls’ victory, Gourdine also made her season debut, finishing the game with a solid eight points. Gourdine is coming off an impressive freshman year that included two triple-doubles, which earned her a spot on the All-AAC Freshman Team. 

The Owls will look to repeat this win as they travel to match up against the University of South Florida (11-4, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) on Jan. 3  at 5 p.m.

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