First Half Turnovers Haunt Tigers in 83-66 Loss at East Carolina
Jan. 22, 2009
Seventeen first half turnovers and a defense that gave up seven first half threes created a hole the Memphis women's basketball team (8-11, 1-5 C-USA) could not overcome in an 83-66 loss at East Carolina (11-7, 2-3 C-USA) Thursday night.
"We let the game get away from us really early in the game. We started in a zone defense and lost sight of a few shooters and spotted them 21 points from the three-point line in the first half," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "In addition to that, we were really frazzled. They came to us with a lot of pressure and I told our team in the locker room, we simply didn't use the skills we have to counter pressure. Once we got through half time and into the second half, I thought our kids made the adjustments that our system allows them to make and I thought we were much more conscientious in how we set screens, the angles we set screens, the set-up cuts we ran, how we handled the basketball, we were just much sharper, but we got overwhelmed with their pressure in their first half."
The Tigers got down early on the strength of field goals from four different Pirates, including three triples in the opening 4:59 to give ECU an early 17-8 advantage at the first media timeout of the game at 14:39.
A three-point shooting exhibition broke out midway through the opening half, which allowed Memphis to pull within five down at 35-30 following a jumper and back-to-back three-point field goals from Paris Leonard. But the Tigers allowed the Pirates to float loose unchecked on the perimeter, where sophomore Allison Spivey knocked down three straight triples followed by a layup from Kim Gay, pushing the ECU lead back to 40-30 with 3:43 to play.
Memphis struggled to close out the half from there, committing 17 opening-stanza turnovers and getting called for two shot clock violations, trailing 42-30 at the break.
Memphis regrouped in the dressing room, coming out and spreading the ball around to three different scorers, powering an 8-2 run that cut the deficit to single digits with 16:15 to play, forcing an ECU timeout with Paris Leonard going to the free-throw line. Leonard hit both free-throws out of the timeout, but ECU answered with a 4-0 run of their own to keep Memphis down by nine at 51-42. Other than a pair of offensive stick backs from Savannah Ellis, Memphis went over seven minutes without a shot from its offensive set, while ECU worked through the Tiger changes on defense and pushed the lead out to 57-46 at the under 12 minute media timeout.
The Pirate lead stayed at nine, briefly going in to double-digits before Ellis stuck in a pair of layups to again the deficit to nine. The game got chippy around the 10-minute mark, with both teams getting multiple trips to the free-throw line, but that allowed ECU to get back in transition, stretching the lead out to 76-62 as Jasmine Young knocked down a three from the corner, the Pirates' first three of the second half after hitting seven in the opening 20 half. Memphis was unable to get any closer from there, threatening to blow the lead open to 20 before the Tigers converted a pair of late layups to make the final score 83-66.
Paris Leonard led all players with 27 points, including 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while Tehani Goldsmith finished with a career-high 14 points in the loss. Ramses Lonlack, who scored six of Memphis' first eight points, finished with 10 points, while Savannah Ellis just missed a double-double with nine points and a team-high nine rebounds.
"I thought (Paris) had a lot of energy and I thought she was a very good basketball player tonight and really played very well on the defensive end of the floor," McFerrin said. "I thought she gave it a very honest effort to be a very good defender tonight."
ECU was led by senior guard LaCoya Terry, who finished with 20 points. Jasmine Young added 18 points and 10 assists, while Jean Best, a 6-5 freshman post, added 11 points and five rebounds.
The Tigers will wrap up the four-game conference swing with a televised contest at Marshall, Saturday. That game will tip at Noon (ET) and will air live on both Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) and CBS College Sports. Jeff Brightwell will also have the radio play-by-play for the game on WUMR, 91.7 FM.
Memphis will return home and close out January with a two-game homestand. The Tigers will host UTEP on Thursday at FedExForum and will close out the month with a game against Tulane on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Saturday game time was changed for 3 p.m. in order to accommodate the Green Wave travel plans.