In their first games back at TC Gym since last week’s winter storm caused a 12-day delay to their respective schedules, Temple College’s basketball programs showed varying amounts of rust Wednesday night.
The Lady Leopards started off the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference doubleheader with an 84-77 win over Grayson, continuing their positive trend with three wins in four conference games. The Leopards, however, suffered their second league setback in three days with a 113-100 loss to the Vikings.
After both TC teams played at McLennan on Monday, neither Temple squad’s adjusted slate allowed much time to prepare for Grayson. Still, the Lady Leopards had five players score in double figures, shot 53 percent from the field and used multiple runs to put away the Lady Vikings.
The Leopards couldn’t contain the Vikings’ up-tempo style, though, as Grayson capitalized on Temple turnovers with fast-break opportunities and reached the 100-point threshold with 6 minutes left in the game.
“The time off didn’t help, but a game like this was about making shots, and they had some shot-makers,” Leopards head coach Clifton Ellis said. “At a certain point, we have to start controlling the things we can. We can’t control the ball going in. But some of the turnovers, missed rebounds and free throws we missed today, those are things we can control. We’ve just got to get better.”
The Leopards (4-3, 1-3) trailed 65-56 at halftime, and consecutive 3-pointers by the Vikings (7-0, 2-0) within the first minute of the second half made it 71-56. Grayson’s lead grew to 92-72 with 11 minutes to go and ballooned to 101-80 with 6:05 remaining before a flurry of 3-pointers by the Leopards over the final minutes.
Aleu Aleu led TC with 29 points. Elijah Lomas (22), Tyler Watkins (18) and Mawien Mawien (10) also finished in double digits.
Tyrone Williams (29) and DJ Thomas (26) paced Grayson’s offense.
On the women’s side, Temple (7-1, 3-1) got 19 points from Starr Jacobs, who finished 9-of-10 from the field. Kamani Jones scored 17 points off the bench, while Jordyn Carter added 16, Kennedi Green chipped in 13 and Taylor Phouangaphayvong had 10.
Green and Jones led the Lady Leopards in the third quarter and helped Temple weather a 13-6 run by Grayson that trimmed a 12-point gap to three.
Green began the second half with a three-point play that made it 40-28. The Lady Vikings cut their deficit to 46-43 over the next 4 minutes before a 3-pointer by Green and a fast-break layup from Phouangaphayvong gave TC a cushion at 53-44.
Green and Jones combined for 14 of TC’s 28 third-quarter points as the Lady Leopards ended the frame with a 19-6 run for a 65-49 lead entering the fourth.
“Ever since I got to Temple, I’ve had the ability to be a facilitator and a leader when need be,” said Green, who has started at point guard in all eight games this season. “My teammates trust me. They know that I’m going to look to get them going offensively first, but if I have to, I can be a scorer. Today was a little bit of both.”
Temple held Grayson (5-1, 1-1) to 37 percent (29-for-78) shooting. The Lady Leopards forced 22 turnovers, 10 of which came in the first quarter. Despite turning the ball over eight times itself, Temple led 22-17 after the first 10 minutes. Jacobs scored eight points and Jordan Walker registered six of her eight points in the opening frame. Sali Kourouma’s layup brought Grayson within 31-28 with 2½ minutes left in the second quarter before a 6-0 burst by the Lady Leopards made it 37-28 at halftime.
“Grayson tried to get us out of our game, but we stayed together and collected, and we remembered that we’re here to get the win,” said Jones, who had 12 points in the second half. “We had great communication. They had big posts, so we had to communicate.”
For the Lady Vikings, Jane Asinde had a game-high 27 points. Shelby Black scored 16 points and Nivi Abron added 11.
“Obviously, 3-1 in this conference is a great start. This is a tough conference from top to bottom,” Lady Leopards head coach Amber Taylor said. “With the layoff last week, we had about four games rescheduled. We’re about to play a lot of games in not a lot of time. Hopefully, we can continue to execute and play at the level I know we’re capable of.”