Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)
Chardrie Snider was a little surprised. She went to pick up her daughter, Mia Davis, from Dr. Rayner Browne Elementary School (Md.) when someone in the front office told her she was playing basketball. Snider winced and asked, “What?” She thought her daughter was still dancing, an early love of Mia’s.
At the relatively late age of 13, Davis was introduced to basketball at a “fun day” at school, playing the shooting game ‘Around the World.’ A coach noticed how she kept making shots and asked her if she had ever played before. A few weeks later, Snider found out her daughter lost her dancing shoes for basketball sneakers.
Mia Davis (above, in Nov.) became Temple's all-time leading scorer on Wednesday evening. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
On Wednesday night at Temple’s McGonigle Hall, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Davis, the girl who once surprised her mother with a sudden new interest about a decade ago, became Temple women’s all-time leading scorer with a game-high 18 points in leading the Owls to a 70-49 route over visiting Wichita State in an American Athletic Conference game.
The 6-foot Davis surpassed the previous all-time scoring mark of 2,194 points held by Marilyn Stephens set in 1984. Entering the game, Davis had scored 2,190. Points 2,194 and 2,195 came on a driving layup with 2:43 left in the first quarter.
“Mia’s been a leader since she first stepped foot on campus,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “She attracts people. Her teammates like being around, because she’s such a positive person. Her leadership is about showing the way. She might not be as vocal, but she shows up every single day at practice and she goes hard. She doesn’t cut corners. She won’t take a step back.”
Apparently, Davis took one step in a direction, back when she was younger, that she didn’t anticipate going.
“I was a dancer, I liked to dance, and I remember going to this little fun day at school, that’s when I discovered I could play basketball,” Davis recalled. “A lot of girls I know start much younger. My mom found out when she came to pick me up from school.
“We played this game called all-around the world, and the basketball coach asked, ‘You can play basketball?’ I shrugged, and I was like, ‘I don’t know?’ I joined the team and I’ve been playing ever since. I started late and I remember I surprised my mom.
“But I surprise everybody,” she added with a laugh.
Davis said it was a great feeling passing the scoring milestone and made sure she thanked her teammates and coaching staff for her success. She was deluged with posters, roses, candy and a huge teddy bear, trying to juggle everything in her arms as she walked with her family through McGonigle Hall.
Temple President Dr. Jason Wingard, among others, was there to congratulate Davis.
“I came into this game with an open mind, because I know thinking about this could put a lot of pressure on you,” Davis said. “I had an open mind, not thinking about it, just trying to get a win.”
A graduate of St. Frances (Md.), Davis has started all 131 games she’s played in Temple uniform, from the time she arrived on campus in 2017 to the present. She averaged 11.2 ppg as a freshman then jumped up to 18.9 ppg as a sophomore, and has maintained that level of production since, averaging 18.8 ppg as a junior, 17.7 ppg during the COVID-shortened season a year ago, and 18.9 ppg this year. She’s made at least 44% of her shots each of the last four years, with 818 made field goals after the Wichita State game, according to HerHoopStats.
As for the game, Temple (10-9, 5-3 AAC) used a 13-4 run in the last 8:19 of the second quarter to take control of the game. By then, Davis had 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting, including a 3-pointer. The Shockers never recovered.
Temple’s largest lead was 64-49 with 04:45 to play. Thirty-six seconds later, Davis came out to rousing applause, with a game-high 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting.
The Owls needed this. They had lost three of their last four and received the perfect foil in Wichita State (11-9, 2-5 AAC), which was 2-6 over its last eight entering the game.
The Owls forced 19 turnovers and Cardoza feels that could be a template the Owls may have to use to win down the stretch in their chase for an NCAA Tournament berth.
“Offensively we got things going because we got stops, and I thought it was a tremendous team effort,” Cardoza said. “We knew that we had to be disruptive, and that’s part of our MO right now. Look around at our conference, we’re probably one of the only teams that play man. We don’t really press, so we have to be disruptive, and we have to be disruptive in the half-court.
“We made it a little more for their bigs to exploit opportunities than they possibly could have.”
About 30 minutes after the game, Davis still wasn’t able to check on her phone. She ended her historic night walking out of McGonigle trying not to drop the various gifts she somehow managed to carry.
Like Davis said herself, “I surprise everybody.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.