Lady Tigers Salvage Split with 78-68 Road Win
Feb. 9, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. - - With three different players scoring double-digit points, including an eighth career double-double from Ashley Thornton, Memphis salvaged a split weekend with a 78-68 win at UCF, Saturday.
"I thought we just had so many different players step up and play so well for us. From Jessica Hall on rotation defense to Thornton's rebounding to all our players coming off the bench and just playing in our system, this was a total team win," Head Coach Blair Savage-Lansden said.
Memphis used the perimeter to build a double-digit halftime lead 42-31. The Lady Tigers broke a 10-10 tie with 14:06 remaining to build a single digit lead that UCF kept cutting down. But Alex Winchell hit a three with 9:36 remaining, and Memphis would then work on the UCF perimeter, getting three straight triples after Savannah Ellis stuck back an offensive rebound to pull ahead 35-25 with 2:28 to play. Paris Leonard then drove for a lay-up and hit a 10-foot jumper to answer a pair of UCF layups. Ashley Thornton then found a wide-open Jessica Hall, who hit her third three of the half to send Memphis in to the break up 42-31.
Both teams were ragged early in the second half, but Memphis used two straight UCF turnovers following a jumper from Paris Leonard to pull ahead 50-35. But UCF countered with a full-court press of their own, using a 15-4 run powered by seven straight points from freshman Emma Cannon and nine points from guard Amber Long to knot the score at 58-58. Paris Leonard answered with a lay-up and Cannon was sent to the free-throw line on the other end, missing the second free-throw and giving Memphis a 60-59 edge on the scoreboard.
After hitting six triples in the opening 20 minutes, UCF had held the Lady Tigers without a three for the first 16 minutes of the second half, but Aroha Jennings found an opening on the perimeter and knocked down a three, pushing the Memphis lead to 63-59. Thornton knocked down a pair of free-throws after drawing a foul on a defensive rebound, then Leonard and Hall knocked down back-to-back threes to push the Lady Tigers back ahead 72-66. From there, Memphis hit six straight free-throws down the stretch to close out the 78-68 win.
Hall, playing in front of a significant home-state crowd, led Memphis with 21 points, adding three steals. Leonard finished with 18 points, while Thornton added 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Aroha Jennings and Leonard were both coming off scoreless outings at Southern Miss to score big points for the Lady Tigers Saturday. Jennings finished with nine points and four rebounds in 24 minutes.
UCF was led by Cannon, who finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Tia Lewis, the nation's second-leading rebounder, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, four rebounds under her average.Marshay White finished with 10 points and four assists in the loss for UCF.
Memphis will wrap up the three-game road swing at SMU, Thursday, at 7 p.m. SMU is coming off a 74-51 win at second-place Houston, Saturday.