When Temple University women’s basketball (10-6, 3-1 The American Athletic Conference) started practices in November 2019, the coaching staff knew they had more dynamic offensive weapons.
“We have a variety of people who can score, which makes that much more exciting this year,” said assistant coach Willnett Crockett before the season began on Oct. 29, 2019.
This rings true amid Temple’s best stretch of the season. They are on a four-game winning streak and have won five of their last six games from Dec. 10, 2019 to Jan. 11.
Temple has relied on a trio of players to do the bulk of their scoring this year: sophomore guard Marissa Mackins, redshirt-sophomore guard Ashley Jones and junior forward and captain Mia Davis.
The three of them combine to produce 48.7 of Temple’s 70.3 average points per game and each has stepped up to make strong contributions during this winning streak.
“I think we have different players and different people that can step up this year rather than last year,” Mackins said. “Last year, we really relied on [guard Alliyah Butts] and [Davis] to run the offense and score. But like I said, we have more assets that can score and that can contribute on offense as well as on defense.”
Mackins has set season-highs in nearly every statistical category during this four-game stretch, including a career-high 28 points and seven three-pointers against La Salle on Dec. 30, 2019.
When Davis sat out against La Salle, Mackins and Jones combined for 51 points. When Jones was pulled after 15 minutes against Tulsa on Jan. 4 Mackins and Davis combined for 44 points.
“I believe my part is just coming in, playing hard,” Jones said. “If I need to score I feel like I can do that. If I need to play defense, you know, I’m working on my defense trying to get that better. So I just feel like, just playing my game. I think if I just play my full game every game, I could just help a lot.”
Coach Tonya Cardoza described each of their efforts in these games as the players “being aggressive,” which, to her, means “getting to the basket, making their way into the paint and taking good shots,” she said.
The Owls have been more aggressive — by Cardoza’s definition — in attempting 25 or more three-point shots per game, including a season-high 34 attempts against Southern Methodist on Jan. 11. The Owls are scoring those three-point attempts at a 29.3 percent clip, lower than their season average of 31.8 percent.
They have also grabbed an average of 49.75 rebounds during the four-game span, well above their season average of 43.4. Temple has outscored each of their opponents in second-chance points during its winning streak.
The trio’s elevated offensive input and increased aggression helped the Owls to its best stretch of the season. The Owls are 3-1 in the American Athletic Conference, with 12 conference matches upcoming.
Their record in the conference will determine the team’s seed in The American Conference Championship and whether they receive a bid to the NCAA Division I Tournament this season.
Mackins, Davis and Jones’ play may determine how far this team goes.
“We are all in on this season,” Davis said before the season started. “We have the same focus and the same goal. We want to win.”
Josh Grieb contributed reporting.