No. 5 Texas A&M 71, Temple 59
When Texas A&M coach Gary Blair saw Temple jump on his
club’s zone defense and whittle a 20-point lead down to four with
8:43 left in the game, he called a timeout and quickly shifted
Texas A&M went back to a relentless press, and the No. 5
Aggies took command for a 71-59 victory against Temple in the
Junkanoo Jam tournament Friday.
Adaora Elonu scored a career-high 23 to lead Texas A&M into
Saturday’s championship game of the Lucaya Division of the Junkanoo
Jam. The Aggies (5-0) play Iowa (4-1) for the title. Temple (2-3)
takes on St. John’s (2-3) in the consolation game.
Tyra White scored 14 points for the Aggies, Sydney Carter added
12 points and Kelsey Bone scored 10 points.
B.J. Williams led Temple with 19 points, and Kristen McCarthy
”Defense basically won it for us in the second half,” Blair
said. ”Carter, White and Elonu made some plays. Temple is a team
that will win 20, 25 games a year. They play a hard schedule and
are well coached. This was exactly the type of team we needed to
play, because we had to work hard.
”It was 48-28, and I started to play some other kids, and my
bench really didn’t keep the same intensity,” Blair said of losing
a 20-point lead. ”When Carter and Tyra and Pratcher and Adaora got
a little tired, I really didn’t have an answer coming off the
bench. But if I want to play that much pressure defense, it starts
affecting your shot. We started short-arming a few.”
Texas A&M opened up the second half with a 12-4 run and led
by 20 points, 48-28. Temple responded with back-to-back 3’s against
the A&M zone, triggering what turned out to be a 22-6 run.
Temple closed to four points at 54-50 on a baseline runner by
Kristen McCarthy with 8:43 left in the game. McCarthy was fouled on
the play, but missed the free throw.
After a timeout by the Aggies, Bone powered inside to put the
brakes on the Owls’ run, making it 56-50. A put-back by Elonu and a
pair of free throws by bone gave the Aggies a 10-point cushion,
60-50, with 6:39 left in the game.
Temple once again fought back, closing a 12-point deficit to
62-58 on a free throw by Victoria Macauley, but Carter rattled in a
jumper from the corner with 2:15 left to give Texas A&M a 64-58
lead. A pair of free throws by Adrienne Pratcher made it 66-58, and
then the Aggies cashed in on a technical foul on Temple head coach
Tonya Cardoza to build a 70-58 lead. After that, the Aggies
maintained the upperhand.
”We did everything right, we just didn’t get any calls,”
Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said of her team’s second-half comeback.
”I think our guys did a really good job of boxing out and doing
the right things. Things just didn’t go our way down the stretch. I
thought our guys fought extremely hard. We pulled within four
points, but we couldn’t catch a break, and you need a break. You’re
playing against a (top five) team in the country, you need a break
sometimes, and we didn’t get any breaks. I deserved the technical,
but (the officials) deserved to hear me, too.”
Elonu wounded Temple with mid-range jumpers, taking advantage of
a sagging Owls’ defense. The 6-foot-1 senior forward helped the
Aggies turn back the Owls in the clutch.
”Coach said in the pre-game, that we have to play like a mature
team,” Elonu said. ”It came down to they made a run, and coach
reminded us in the huddle, this was the time when we needed to be
mature and show what we’re capable of. I think we did a pretty good
job of that and getting the victory.
”It was pretty calm, surprisingly, I guess just because it’s
early in the season,” Elonu said of the timeout after Temple
closed to four points. ”Once (coach) put us back in the press, it
picked up a lot more. That’s what we really want to do. We want to
be up there pressuring, not waiting back in a zone. I think that
really change the dynamic of the game and get back in it and get a
Texas A&M’s transition game kicked in early and the Aggies
rolled to a 23-8. While Temple committed 10 turnovers in falling
behind by 15 points, the Aggies didn’t commit a turnover until the
11:26 mark of the first half. The Aggies led 36-24 at halftime.