Memphis Picks Up Third Conference Victory on the Road
Feb. 15, 2009
TULSA, Okla. - - Memphis was 26-for-33 from the free-throw line to secure a 65-60 victory on the road at Tulsa (6-18, 2-10 C-USA) Sunday afternoon. The win gives Memphis (10-15, 3-9 C-USA) the advantage in the tiebreaker with the Golden Hurricane as both teams were knotted at 10th in the league standings heading in to the game.
"That's one of the things that we talked about, was getting inside their zone," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "They helped us out late by going man-to-man which let us run some of our man stuff, but this is a good win on the road for the Tigers."
Memphis trailed 28-21 at the half despite scoring the first four points of the game to take an early 4-0 lead. Tulsa answered back with a 15-0 run that pushed the Golden Hurricane out to a double-digit lead of 15-4 with 14:21 to play. But the Tigers answered back with a run of their own, 10-0, to pull to 15-14 down before a 4-0 Tulsa run gave the Golden Hurricane another cushion. But with Larrissa Williams and Tiffani Couisnard both on the bench with two fouls, Memphis had a chance to get some open looks in the paint. But the Tigers were unable to convert, and when Williams checked back in, she scored four of Tulsa's final seven points to help Tulsa to the locker room with the halftime lead.
Memphis opened the second half with a 6-0 run powered by three free-throws from senior guard Paris Leonard, who was fouled from beyond the arc by Tatum Beer. Savannah Ellis then stole a ball and fed it to Leonard, who hit a wide-open Alex Winchell for a three to cut the deficit to 28-27. But Beer answered back with a three of her own, starting a 7-0 Tulsa run that pushed the Golden Hurricane lead back to 35-29 with 17:06 to play.
But Winchell answered with back-to-back buckets to cut it to 35-31 with 16:13 to play. Following the media timeout, Ramses Lonlack grabbed an offensive rebound off a Laquawanda Sippio missed shot, hitting both free-throws to cut the deficit to 35-33 and to send Tulsa's leading scorer, Larissa Williams, to the bench with her fourth personal foul. With Williams on the sideline, Memphis went right back inside, feeding Savannah Ellis for a baby hook to tie the game for just the second time, but the first of the half, at 35-35. Tulsa quickly answered back with a layup as Kara Vaughan broke loose ahead of the Tiger defense, but Winchell stole a ball from Teka Brooks and Shekeira Copeland drew the foul while trying to score in the paint. Copeland knocked down both free-throws, to knot the game for a third time at 37-37 with 11:38 to play. Tulsa would answer with a pair of free-throws from Kara Vaughan for a fourth tie, but Alex Winchell knocked down another three off an assist from Leonard to give Memphis a 42-39 lead with 10:07 to play.
"This was a total team win tonight, "McFerrin said. "I thought Shekeira was very good tonight. She hit shots that were huge and she was active in defense and did some rebounding in there. Shae Seagraves comes in and hits two threes that were huge when we were at a point where we couldn't score, which was most the night, and we were lucky that we turned them over and got to score some stuff in transition. Laquawanda gave us great energy off the bench and helped us get a good road win."
Tulsa answered with a pair of quick layups, but Shae Seagraves came off the bench and knocked down back-to-back three-point field goals to put Memphis up by five, 48-43, with 7:17 to play.
The dogfight would move to the free-throw line from there, as Memphis went 7-for-9 to keep Tulsa at bay, despite nine straight points from Williams as she checked in off the bench. Memphis would turn the ball over two times in the final 2:10 of the game, giving life to a Tulsa drive that cut the Tiger lead to one at 61-60 after the Tigers were whistled for four fouls in the final 1:48 of the game.
But Paris Leonard stepped to the line and knocked down both free-throws after being fouled after the ball was in-bounded to push the lead to 63-60, and Ramses Lonlack grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled, hitting both of her attempts for a 65-60 Memphis win.
Paris Leonard and Alex Winchell each finished with 14 points in the win, while Shekeira Copeland added a season-best 10 points with seven rebounds off the bench. Ramses Lonlack finished with eight points and 10 rebounds, while Ashley Thornton finished with six points and seven rebounds. "Paris played quite a bit at the point this evening and I thought she was very composed and gave us an opportunity to get Alex Winchell some rest with Tehani Goldsmith out of the lineup tonight," McFerrin said.
Williams was the lone Tulsa player to score double-digit points, finishing with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Tulsa out-rebounded Memphis 38-35 and had six blocks on the night.
Memphis returns home for its final home weekend, beginning Friday night against East Carolina. That game will tip at 7:06 p.m. The ECU game is the annual `Take a Kid to the Game' night, where kids receive free admission with a paying adult. Friday's game is also Memphis' game for the "Pink Zone." Fans are asked to wear pink and white in honor of the WBCA's "Pink Zone" initiative, which is raising money for breast cancer research.
The Tigers will play their final home game of the season Sunday afternoon against Marshall. That game will also be Memphis' senior night, which is the final career home game for seniors Jessica Jackson, Paris Leonard and Ashley Thornton. That game will tip at 2:06 p.m.