Tiger Turnovers Dig Deficit in 73-53 Loss to UTEP
Jan. 29, 2009
Senior forward Ashley Thornton scored all 19 of her points in the second half and finished with her 13th career double-double, but it wasn't enough to overcome 12 first half Tiger turnovers that went the other way as 19 UTEP (12-8, 5-2 C-USA) points in a 73-53 loss Thursday night in Memphis (8-13, 1-7 C-USA).
"We didn't come to compete tonight which is incredibly disappointing to me," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "I know we're a team that is building, but I expect more than that from our team. We have to reach a point where they expect more of themselves and more of each other. That's a difficult thing to achieve when you're in a difficult stretch where you have strung together a few losses. I know where we are and I understand that, but I cannot accept not competing. We go to practice every day and compete, but we came out today and we did not appear like we had much of an interest to beat this team. Ashley Thornton was the exception. She came out tonight and played like a senior. We have to expect more of ourselves and we have to expect more of each other every day."
Memphis found itself in a hole early, as UTEP sprinted out to a 16-2 lead in the opening 5:11 of the game. Memphis used a pair of Savannah Ellis layups to cut that deficit to single digits, but UTEP answers back with a jumper from Tamika Williams off an Alex Winchell turnover and a three-point field goal from Sviatlanta Trukshanina to push the lead back to double digits, where it would stay heading in to the break, with UTEP up 17, 39-22.
The Miners answered any run Memphis may have planned in the locker room with a three from Dietra Caldwell to open the second half, and the Tiger deficit had been opened to 20. Ashley Thornton, who had no points and six rebounds in the opening half, went to work inside, scoring five straight points, cutting the deficit to 19 at 50-31 before Jareica Hughes picked Winchell's pocket and fed Tamika Williams for a layup to push the Miner lead back over 20.
Memphis would cut the deficit to 19 four more times, but had no answer for a UTEP defense that forced 19 turnovers on the night and an offense that had 15 assists on 22 field goals. Williams led all players with 20 points, despite battling foul trouble in the first half, while Hughes and Briana Green each added 15. The 15 points for Hughes puts her at exactly 1,000 points heading in to a road game at UAB, Saturday.
Memphis was led by Thornton's 19 points and 12 rebounds. The senior added two assists, one block and two steals in 39 minutes of play. Paris Leonard scored 12 points, all in the first half, while Savannah Ellis finished with 11 points and three blocked shots.
Memphis will return to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, Saturday, for a 3 p.m. game against Tulane.