Temple cruises by Delaware State in season opener

An all-around impressive team performance led the Owls to a 109-43 win.

Center Jaleesa Molina scored 16 points in Temple's 109-43 win over Delaware State| ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The main talking point surrounding Temple Women’s Basketball last season was its lack of depth. Today proved that should no longer be an issue. Temple head coach Diane Richardson used a 12-player rotation against Delaware State, allowing each of them to score and for the Owls to finish with 51 total bench points.

Temple (1-0, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) beat Delaware State (0-1, 0-0 Mid Eastern Athletic Conference) 109-43 Monday afternoon in their season opener. It was a complete performance for the Owls to start their season on a high note.

“Eight out of twelve scored in double figures,” Richardson said. “Again equal opportunity offense, everybody that entered the game scored. We are really pleased about that and I am really excited about what they did today and their production.”

Center Jaleesa Molina led the charge off the bench in the first half for Temple, putting up nine points and grabbing three offensive rebounds, and she showed off her shooting touch, drilling a long three-pointer to put an exclamation point on a big first-half run for the Owls. The freshman from the Netherlands finished with a team-leading 16 points and six rebounds in her impressive debut.

Temple started fast out of the gate, starting the game on a 7-0 run that was capped off by a long three from guard Aleah Nelson, forcing Delaware State to take a timeout just two minutes into the game. The momentum remained in Temple’s favor for the rest of the first quarter, as they used an 18-0 run in the middle of the quarter to finish the first leading 30-6.

“Our goal every day is to force the opposing coach to call a timeout,” Richardson said. “We do that with tough defense and I think they did that early today.”

At the half, Temple held a commanding 52-25 lead. The Owls were led by Molina, guard Tarriyonna Gary and forward Ines Piper, who had seven points and six rebounds in the first half.

The second half was more of the same for Temple, who outscored Delaware State 29-11 in the third quarter then outscored them 28-9 to finish out the game, never taking their foot off the pedal. 

Eight players finished with double-digit points in the win, led by Molina’s 16, Piper’s 15 and East’s 12. Piper also picked up her first career double-double, adding 11 rebounds. 

“This year I’m a senior and I have more responsibilities and a bigger role compared to last year,” Piper said. “I need to show my younger teammates a good example on the court.”

As a team, Temple shot an impressive 54 percent from the field, with 12 shots coming from behind the arc, led by Gary who hit three.

The Owls also dominated on the glass, out-rebounding Delaware State 47-23. Of those rebounds, 20 of them were offensive rebounds, turning those into 26 second-chance points. The Owls also racked up 26 assists, led by freshman guard Tristen Taylor’s eight. 

The defense for Temple was just as impressive, forcing 28 turnovers and scoring 45 points off those turnovers. Taylor led the team with four steals and Nelson added three steals of her own.

Guard Kendall Currence and forward Rayne Tucker shined in their long-awaited Temple debuts. Currence finished with 10 points off the bench, and Tucker drew the start in her first game in the Cherry and White, finishing with 10 points and three rebounds.

The game marked the first time Temple scored 100 points in a game since 2015, and their 66-point margin of victory was their largest in a season opener and second-largest in program history, only behind their 109 in a victory of La Salle in 1983.

“I’m really pleased at what we did today and we broke a lot of records, but we are just beginning,” Richardson said. “This is day one of 30 and we are just beginning. Be with us and follow us, I’m telling you it is going to be exciting.”

Temple will look to build on the strong start to the season when they take on Georgetown (0-0, 0-0 Big East Conference) on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at The Liacouras Center.

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