Temple University women’s basketball (13-8, 5-3 The American Athletic Conference) defeated Central Florida (11-8, 3-4 The AAC) for the first time in four years Wednesday. The Owls held on for a 67-65 win in McGonigle Hall that came down to the final seconds.
With Temple holding a 66-65 lead, sophomore guard Marissa Mackins missed a layup with 14 seconds remaining to give Central Florida another opportunity. However, the Knights turned the ball over back to Temple with 5.9 seconds remaining.
Mackins was fouled and sent to shoot free throws. Mackins converted one of her two opportunities to give Temple a two-point lead and Central Florida missed a potential game-tying jumper at the buzzer to give Temple the win.
“I thought down the stretch, we obviously have to be a little bit smarter, but we found a way to pull another game that was close,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I’m proud of my kids and how they stepped up against a team that’s really, really physical.”
Temple has played in 12 games in which the margin of victory has been less than 10. They have won seven of those games.
Mackins led Temple in scoring, racking up 22 points on 46.7 percent shooting overall. She knocked down 5-of-11 three-point shot attempts, good for 45.5 percent. Four of those five three-pointers were scored in the third quarter.
“If I’m hitting threes or even [graduate student forward Lena Niang] is hitting threes, it opens up the inside because the other team is so worried about us shooting,” Mackins said. “So they’re not as worried about [junior forward Mia Davis] or [sophomore forward Alexa Williamson] on the inside and we can get them the ball and score as well.”
Niang scored 12 points for the Owls and grabbed nine rebounds, playing for all 40 minutes of the game. Niang, Mackins, and Davis all played 37 minutes or more each.
Niang’s elevated scoring output, averaging 7.4 points per game. Contributions from Williamson allowed Temple to win, despite Davis’ relatively light scoring output, Cardoza said. Davis scored 12 points on 35.7 percent shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.
“Just because [Davis] is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds doesn’t mean the next guy can slack off,” Cardoza added. “Teams are geared towards stopping her, so [Mackins] knocking down shots, [Niang] moving without the basketball—that’s the way we help Mia out so that she doesn’t have to be the savior every night.”
With the win, Temple has now improved to 5-3 in conference play, placing them fifth in the American Athletic Conference standings. They will have the chance to avenge an earlier loss to Wichita State on Wednesday, Feb. 5 before heading off to face South Florida.