@MemphisWBKB Upsets No. 23 Rutgers, 74-73
Jan. 14, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
It took five extra minutes, but the University of Memphis women's basketball team (9-8, 2-3 The American) picked up its first win over a ranked opponent since 2003 with a 74-73 victory over No. 23 Rutgers (13-4, 4-1 The American).
"We didn't feel that bad at halftime (after shooting 28.1 percent)," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "We felt like we turned the ball over a lot, but our defense was really, really solid and we knew that what was keeping us in the game was free throws, so the shooting percentage was huge in the first half. We had to get them out of transition and be solid on the glass and we had to go to the free throw line. I'm so proud of our team. We gutted it out, I thought there were just a couple of times we were just emotionless in the game and I don't know if we didn't expect to win, but we talked about how now it's time to execute and win."
It took nearly all of the second half, but Memphis erased a nine-point halftime deficit and took their first lead of the game when senior Pa'Sonna Hope hit a bucket and one to put Memphis up 63-62 with 1:55 left in regulation. On the Tigers' next offensive possession, freshman Taylor Williams was fed a ball from Ariel Hearn off a Rutgers turnover and drained a three to make the Tigers' lead 66-62 with 1:31 left in the game. But Rutgers had not won nine straight for nothing. Rutgers' freshman Tyler Scaife knocked down a pair of free-throws to halve the deficit at 66-64 and when Betnijah Laney drove the baseline and scored, she knotted the game for the third time at 66 all with 15 seconds to play.
Memphis almost got trapped in a full court press on the next inbounds, but Ariel Hearn threw a pass over the defense and found Williams wide open on the wing. Williams got a shot off, but it bounced off the rim and was rebounded by Breigha Wilder-Cochran. Wilder-Cochran was blocked by Scaife on the putback try and the ball was rebounded by Kahleah Copper. But as Copper tried to drive up the sideline, Memphis sophomore Asianna Fuqua-Bey tied up the ball, forcing a jump ball call which gave the Tigers the ball back with 0.1 left on the clock. The Tigers got the ball in-bounded, but could never reel in the toss and went to overtime for the fifth time this season.
The overtime session started with a bunch of missed shots on both ends and it looked like Rutgers was going to try to win its 10th straight game with its effort at the free-throw line, where Scaife and Rachel Hollivay knocked down three free-throws to push Rutgers up 69-66 with 3:19 left in overtime.
But again, freshman Taylor Williams had an answer for the Tigers, driving the left lane and scoring to cut the deficit to one at 69-68. But Rutgers earned a trip back to the free-throw line, where Copper knocked down a pair to push the Scarlet Knight lead to three. On the next trip down the floor, Ariel Hearn missed a three that was rebounded by Williams, who pushed the ball back to Hearn. Hearn wasn't going to miss twice and scored it, pulling Memphis to one down at 71-70.
But Copper drove right up the floor for a bucket in the paint and the Tigers found themselves down three for the third time in the overtime session. But Wilder-Cochran drove the lane on the next Tiger possession, drawing a foul. The freshman from Hoover, Ala., knocked down both free-throws to pull her team to 73-72 down with 1:04 left in overtime.
Rutgers had chances, but missed two jumpers on the other end. The second was rebounded by Fuqua-Bey, who was fouled and stepped to the line with her team down one with nine seconds to play.
The sophomore, who was 0-for-2 at the line when she stepped there in overtime, drained both to give the Tigers the lead at 74-73.
Rutgers inbounded the ball and was driving down the center of the lane, where the ball-handler was met by a trio of Tigers. The ball was knocked away and picked up by Fuqua-Bey, who held on to it as the clock wound down on the Tigers' victory.
Hearn led the Tigers with 18 points, adding four assists and four steals. Hope and Fuqua-Bey both finished with double-doubles. Hope finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, fighting through a tough shooting night from the floor, but knocking down 6-for-8 tries at the free-throw line. Fuqua-Bey finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, adding two assists and two steals. Wilder-Cochran rounded out the four Tiger double-digit scorers, finishing with 12 points and six assists.
Copper led Rutgers with 23 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field, adding nine rebounds. Scaife added 21 points and six assists and Laney finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in the Scarlet Knights' first loss since November. The Memphis win snapped a nine-game winning streak for Rutgers that had ranked tied for seventh in the nation.
"This young team is kind of phenominal right now," McFerrin said. "We're growing and maturing and learning how to win. They take me getting on them so well. With about 30 seconds left to go in the game I was on them so hard and they just looked at me and said, ok, what do you want us to do and they did it and went out and got a stop. I'm really, really pleased with this team."
Memphis remains at home and will host Houston, Saturday, at 4 p.m. at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.