Temple head coach RaShonta LeBlanc expects a close game each time her team plays a District 12-6A opponent. In that sense, Tuesday night’s league tilt with Killeen Ellison at Wildcat Gym didn’t disappoint.
But it was the Tem-Cats’ blistering shooting in the fourth that stole the show, leading to a 48-34 win over the Lady Eagles that snapped a three-game slide for Temple (11-6, 1-1), which split two overtime decisions with Ellison (11-6, 1-1) last year.
“That’s what I expect throughout district (play),” LeBlanc said. “It’s hard-working teams coached well by good coaches. It’s a competitive district. I thought we had a little bit more grit than we had last Friday. The girls were attacking the ball a little bit more and carrying out the game plan.”
Last week, Temple trailed by four with less than a minute left in an eventual 49-43 loss to Killeen to open league. This time around, the Tem-Cats closed out another close affair with a well-timed offensive outburst.
Temple shot 6-of-8 in the final frame and hit 11 of 12 free throws to turn a back-and-forth lead-swapper into a going-away win in the last 3 minutes.
After the teams traded leads four times in the first 1½ minutes of the fourth, the Tem-Cats took the lead for good when Nyteria Colbert drained a transition 3-pointer from the left side with 6:48 remaining, marking the ninth lead change of the night.
Colbert, who led Temple with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, scored 12 of her game-high points in the second half, eight of which came in the fourth.
The senior guard also started the quarter with a midrange jumper from the middle of the lane off an Aaliyah Thomas pass to jumpstart the scoring for the Tem-Cats, who shot 36 percent (15-of-41).
“They were hitting some shots and got to the free throw line a little bit more than we did,” Killeen Ellison head coach Sherry McKinnon said. “We couldn’t hit shots. We just weren’t in our flow.”
Ellison was within 35-31 with 3:01 left after Asia Zachary split a pair of free throws following an offensive rebound. But Temple made good use of being in the foul bonus as the game wound down, hitting 7-of-8 free throws in the game’s final 1½ minutes to pull away.
“I thought that both teams played well, we were just able to pull it out tonight,” LeBlanc said. “They’re a tough opponent. It’s hard to prepare for them, but we knew what we needed to do and we came out and did that.”
Kira Bass led Ellison with 16 points, while Allison Owens followed with 14 and a team-best seven rebounds.
Aniah Hall grabbed a game-high nine rebounds for Temple, while Thomas chipped in with 11 points and Jasmine Calvery had nine points and six boards. Rene’jah Jackson also had seven rebounds and a game-best four steals for the Tem-Cats, who will next host Copperas Cove, a 60-58 loser to Killeen on Tuesday.
The Tem-Cats will take on Cove at 7 p.m. Friday.