Lady Tigers Come Back to Defeat Rice, 62-56
Feb. 3, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -
Memphis (6-15, 3-5 C-USA) only led a little over six minutes of the game against Rice (8-14, 1-7 C-USA) on Sunday afternoon, but it was the six minutes that mattered in a 62-56 win at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
"I thought this was a total team effort in this win," Head Coach Blair Savage-Lansden said. "You have to give our players credit. Tonight they did the little things that mattered, like getting on the floor for loose balls and boxing out, even if they weren't able to get the rebound. When we have games where everyone does the little things, even if their shot is not falling, we put ourselves in a position to win."
Memphis actually trailed at the break, 25-24. Both teams worked the ball inside in the early minutes of the game, with the first 14 points of the outing coming as the teams traded lay-ups. Rice senior Katie Riverin almost willed the Owls to the first half lead on her own, scoring 12 of the team's 25 points. But it was Memphis freshman Savannah Ellis who tried to spark a Memphis charge off the bench, as Ellis posted up for her first two points, then stuck back an offensive rebound on the next Memphis trip down the floor to pull within one at 19-18. But Riverin would have an answer, hitting two free-throws, then getting out in transition for a lay-up to push the Owls back in front. Memphis' lone senior, Aroha Jennings, then got in to the act, hitting a pair of free-throws and then a jumper with her foot on the three-point line to knot the game again at 22-22. Memphis forced a turnover on the next trip down the floor, and Latoya Bullard, who missed the Houston game due to the flu, converted a lay-up of her own, giving Memphis its first lead since the early seconds of the game.
But the lead would be short-lived as forward Tiffany Loggins stepped in off the Rice bench and knocked down a wide-open look for three from the top of the key, giving Rice its halftime cushion.
Rice then opened the second half with two quick buckets before Savage substituted three players into the Memphis line-up to not only generate some offense, but to slow down Riverin, who had just run down the court for another lay-up. But the early minutes of the second half looked like the late minutes of the first half, as Memphis could cut the deficit to two and three points, but could never take the lead. With Rice up 35-30, Paris Leonard got loose for a lay-up, and when Aroha Jennings hit her only three of the night, she had tied the ball game up at 35-35, the fifth tie of the game.
But again, Rice would get a jumper from Riverin to move back in front and build a small, five-point cushion at 44-39 with 8:01 to play. But Jessica Hall had apparently seen enough. Hall drove the lane from the left wing hitting the bucket-and-one and starting a run that saw her score seven straight points. Her third straight bucket with 6:02 remaining gave Memphis a 46-44 lead, its first since the 18:03 mark in the first half. Loggins tried to answer back with another jumper from the wing, but Ashley Thornton rebounded the ball and found Paris Leonard, who drove three-quarters of the court for the lay-up and a 48-44 lead. The next offensive for series for Memphis could have sealed Rice's fate. Ashley Thornton rebounded a Paris Leonard missed free-throw and then rebounded a Jessica Hall missed three-point field goal, drawing a foul with Rice in the bonus situation. Thornton stepped to the line and hit both free-throws, pushing Memphis ahead 50-44.
Rice came down and knocked down two free-throws on an Alex Winchell intentional foul and got off another jumper as the intentional foul gave the Owls possession of the ball after Riverin's two made free-throws. But the jumper was rebounded by Thornton, who corralled four of her 10 rebounds in the two-minute stretch.
But Rice kept digging, cutting the deficit to 52-49 with 3:51 to play before Jessica Jackson drained a shot from just inside the three-point line with the shot clock winding down. Again Riverin had an answer, hitting a jumper in the lane. But on Memphis' trip down the floor, Paris Leonard got the ball at the top of the key for Memphis and saw a wide-open Jessica Hall setting up at the three-point line. Memphis was 1-for-11 from three-point range at the time, and Hall was 0-for-4, but she connected without drawing any iron from the wing for a 57-51 Memphis lead that eventually became a 62-56 Lady Tiger victory.
Hall finished with 18 points and five rebounds, while Jennings scored 15 points, including an 8-for-8 mark from the free-throw line, in 23 minutes. Ashley Thornton led Memphis with 10 rebounds, adding six points. Eight different Lady Tigers posted five or more rebounds, as Memphis outworked Rice on the glass 52-42, including 18 offensive rebounds.
Riverin finished with 20 points and five rebounds, while Maudess Fulton added 10 points and nine rebounds. Tiffany Loggins came off the bench to score 15 points, including three treys, adding six rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
Memphis will not have much time to recover from the win, as the Lady Tigers will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., to face Southern Miss, Thursday, to open a three-game road swing.