Temple women’s basketball freshman guard carves out role with energy

Marissa Mackins has played in every game but one while starting eight of them.

Freshman guard Marissa Mackins dribbles the ball during Temple’s 84-62 win against East Carolina on Saturday at McGonigle Hall. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Before she even committed to Temple University, Marissa Mackins was a fan of graduate student guard Alliya Butts. 

In her junior year of high school, Mackins traveled to Philadelphia with her Amateur Athletic Union team to watch the Owls play. She was immediately drawn to both Temple and Butts’ style of play. 

Now, Mackins, a freshman point guard, is backcourt teammates with Butts and has taken on a substantial role despite the Owls (5-14, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) having experienced guards in Butts and sophomore Desiree Oliver. 

Mackins has started eight games and played in 18 of Temple’s season. The Durham, North Carolina, native averages 25.7 minutes per game and has recorded 148 field goal attempts. 

In Temple’s past two games, Mackins recorded a career-high 19 points on Wednesday against Penn and tallied a career-high 10 rebounds in Temple’s 84-62 win against East Carolina on Saturday. 

“[Marissa] has taken her game to another level,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Marissa is someone that can really knock down shots. She’s playing in games and playing a lot of minutes as a freshman, and she’s holding her own.” 

Mackins is third on the team behind sophomore forward Mia Davis and Butts with 7.1 points per game. Mackins is second only to Butts in assists and 3-pointers made, but is tied for second in assists.

Having looked up to Butts since high school, Mackins continues to admire Butts because she is a fifth-year player who has significant experience, she said.

“[Butts has] given me a lot of advice,” Mackins added. “She’s told me to keep my head up and just play the game that I love.”

Mackins’ love for the game started at age 3 when she was first introduced to basketball. She grew up in an athletic family and played basketball with her four brothers in her backyard. She had to develop a competitive spirit early to hold her own in family games. 

Mackins’ is competitive and energetic which has carried over into her play at Temple. Whether starting or coming off the bench, her play helps spark the team, she said. 

Mackins can be a difference-maker in a game, Cardoza said.

“[Mackins is] going to be a great player for us,” Cardoza said. “She plays with a lot of confidence, and she was being super aggressive.”

Cardoza praised Mackins for her ability to shoot but added that the guard is “still learning.” Mackins consistently listens to her coaches and teammates’ feedback in the pursuit of getting better.

“I’ve learned that I have to keep my composure and I have to settle down,” Mackins said. “I still have to work on my defense. And I have to hit open shots.”

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