PHILADELPHIA -- Dawn Staley enjoys her trips home to Philadelphia, except the pressure part of the visit.
Tyasha Harris scored 21 points and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan added 15 to help No. 6 South Carolina finally put away Temple, 78-71 on Saturday.
“Always love coming back here, just don't like the stress of having to win basketball games," Staley said.
“At the end of the day, we made plays when we needed to make plays. Temple played extremely well," the coach said.
This was the Gamecocks' first game since knocking off then-No. 2 Baylor in the finale of the Paradise Jam Tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving weekend. South Carolina was a bit sluggish early on and playing “funky" as Staley said.
South Carolina (9-1) trailed 49-48 late in the third quarter before scoring the final five points of the period. The Gamecocks kept the momentum going to start the fourth quarter, extending the advantage to 69-54 on Herbert Harrigan's layup with 4:21 left in the game.
Temple (5-5) got within 74-68 when Emani Mayo converted a four-point play with 48.5 seconds left. Harris converted two free throws 10 seconds later and the Gamecocks weren't threatened again.
“"Freshmen are going to be freshmen at times throughout the season," Staley said. “The upperclassmen made plays when they needed to. That's why you can't afford not to have experience on the basketball court."
Marissa Mackins scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Owls. Mia Davis added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
A short-handed Temple set the tone playing gritty defense. The Owls were down 33-22 before closing the half on a 11-4 run to get within four at the break. They scored the first six points after the half to take a 39-37 lead -- the first of the game for Temple as Mackins hit consecutive 3-pointers. The third quarter was back and forth before the Gamecocks took over at the end of the period.
Temple coach Tonya Cardoza hopes her team can build on this loss and put forth the same effort during the rest of the season.
“This is the effort we need to put forth every game,” she said.
The Owls were missing starting point guard Ashley Jones, who averages 17.3 points and 5.6 rebounds. She's sidelined with a concussion.
HONORING DAWN: South Carolina boosters Kenneth and Cyndi Long partnered with Staley’s Innersole program to donate 100 pairs of sneakers and coats to Philadelphia area youth. Staley, who grew up in North Philadelphia, will head to the Hank Gathers Recreation Center with the Longs and the team after the game for the ceremony.
“This is what I'm about, North Philly is where I grew up. North Philly is where I honed my skills and where my heart is," Staley said. “Any time I can give back to the kids in this neighborhood I'm going to do that."
South Carolina leads the all-time series 5-0 over Temple. Staley complied a 172-80 record at Temple when she was the coach from 2000-08. Cardoza succeeded Staley and is 216-152 in her 12 years at the school. .... Before the game Cardoza presented Davis with a ball to commemorate her 1,000th career point that she scored against UConn on Nov. 17. ... Stellar freshman Aliyah Boston had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Staley said she missed a couple of days of practice this past week to attend the funeral of one of her former teachers.
South Carolina: hosts Purdue on Dec. 15.
Temple: hosts Villanova on Tuesday
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