The score sat at just 53-49 at the end of the third quarter in Saturday’s matchup between Temple women’s basketball (5-5, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) and the sixth-ranked University of South Carolina (9-1) with the Gamecocks holding the slight advantage.
After blowing out the Owls last season, the same was expected of the Gamecocks on Saturday afternoon. However, sophomore guard Marissa Mackins powered the Owls’ offense and kept the score close enough to potentially earn a huge upset win. Temple led early in the third quarter after Mackins drained back-to-back three-pointers.
Then, in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks went on a 16-5 run and overpowered the Owls, winning by a score of 78-71.
“Today was one of the days that we actually paid attention to our goals and that’s why we were in the game,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Bringing a top-10 team in the country with all the All-Americans that they have, we just focused on the things that we needed to do. We gave ourselves a shot. We missed some shots and turned the basketball over, but all in all, I liked the way that my team competed.”
A late run by the Owls got them within six points but they ran out of time on their upset bid.
“It felt like the whole game they were being aggressive on the ball, and it just got to the point where we weren’t making the same shots,” Cardoza said. “We made some of them early, but down the stretch we got tired. We played with a lot of energy and it took its toll. We competed every single possession.”
The Owls kept the game close throughout the first three quarters with three-point shooting and by playing tight in the paint on the Gamecocks’ top scorer. Coming into the fourth quarter, the Owls were shooting 35.29 percent from the field and 41.17 percent from three.
The Gamecocks took control in the fourth quarter. Both teams shot well on nearly the same amount of shots taken, 42.86 percent on 21 shots for the Gamecocks and 40 percent on 20 shots for the Owls, but the Gamecocks made their shots earlier.
Mackins, who finished with a career-high 26 points, had just six points in the fourth. Junior forward Mia Davis finished with her sixth double-double of the season, but sat the first three minutes of the fourth due to foul trouble and only had four points in the final 10 minutes of action.
“They didn’t really do anything specific to try and stop me, it was more that they just started to put more pressure on me so I wouldn’t be able to get to the basket,” Mackins said.
The Owls turned the ball over 19 times, including five times in the fourth quarter, to help the Gamecocks pull away. South Carolina scored 22 points off turnovers, and sophomore guard Destanni Henderson finished with 12 points and a career-high five steals.
After going cold for most of the second quarter and some of the third, the Gamecocks figured it out in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Tyasha Harris scored 12 of her 21 points in the fourth, and senior forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan made nine of her 15 points in the fourth.
“I thought we did a pretty good job defensively,” Cardoza said. “Obviously they started scoring in the fourth quarter, but going into the fourth quarter, I believe the score was in the 50s. Defensively, we did what I asked and they just made their shots. We did a good job of making sure Harrigan didn’t get a lot of post touches because we wouldn’t be able to defend her one-on-one. So they made shots, but I thought our players really focused on not allowing them to get exactly what they wanted to get.”
The Owls will now turn their attention to the Big 5 when they take on Villanova (4-4) on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at McGonigle Hall.
“Our effort tonight was definitely better than it has been the last few games and that’s what you need in order to be successful every game,” Mackins said.