Short-Handed Tigers Fall at Southern Miss, 61-55
Feb. 17, 2011
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - - Without Brittany Carter and getting only four minutes from Ramses Lonlack in the game due to injuries, the short-handed Memphis Tigers (18-8, 7-5 C-USA) dropped a 66-51 decision at Southern Miss (10-15, 5-7 C-USA), Thursday, in Conference USA play.
"We knew we were going to be climbing uphill all night long, but I was really challenging some of our players who haven't played a lot of minutes to really step up and perform," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "They've been with us eight months and it's time, and the fact of the matter was, that didn't happen. (USM) committed 2 and 3 people at all times on Jasmine Lee and they weren't going to let Alex Winchell get loose, so for most of the night, we were playing five on three. Some of those players who sit on the bench and think it looks easy, they have to grow up a little bit, they found out tonight that it's not easy. We're two men down and we gotta be tougher."
Memphis got on the board first with a triple from Mary Jackson, but Southern Miss stepped up to the challenge, using a 6-0 run to double up the Tigers 6-3. Nicole Dickson and Mary Jackson then knocked down triples and Jasmine Lee scored a layup in transition off a feed from Alex Winchell to push Memphis in front 13-12, but that was the last of the lead the Tigers would see as USM connected on a pair of threes following a made free throw to push ahead 19-15 with 7:54 remaining in the half. That started a 15-0 Southern Miss run that pushed the lead to 28-20 in the home team's favor after Memphis committed 10 turnovers and was out-scored 7-2 in second chance points before the under four media timeout.
Memphis finally snapped the Golden Eagle run with a triple from Dickson, but turnovers kept the Tigers from getting anything going offensively, as USM doubled the players in the paint, forcing bad passes and drawing a technical foul against Savannah Ellis, and the Tigers hit the dressing room at the half, down 30-23. Memphis would finish with 26 turnovers on the night.
But the Tigers turned up the defensive pressure to start the second half, as Jackson stole a ball and stuck it in for a layup to pull Memphis to 30-25 down, forcing a Southern Miss timeout with 18:51 remaining in the game. Memphis then went with a big lineup with Mumphrey, Lee and Dickson, but Mumphrey picked up her third personal foul and forced the Tiger coaching staff to insert Danay Collier into the line-up. Memphis kept accumulating fouls, sending USM to the line where the Golden Eagles were 14 for 22 for the game.
Following a USM run to pull ahead by 14, the defense allowed the Tigers to claw back to 47-37 following a Dickson free-throw, but the Tigers missed shots and committed turnovers while trying to trim the deficit, before USM drilled another three to push it back up to 50-37 in the Golden Eagles' favor. Mary Jackson answered with a bucket, but missed the and-one free-throw to allow USM to escape with a 50-39 lead, keeping the Tiger deficit at double-digits.
Jackson would finish with a career-high 12 points in the loss. Dickson led Memphis with 17 points, while Alex Winchell connected on a late three and a late free-throw to finish with 10 points. Savannah Ellis led the Tiger rebounders with nine rebounds. "We're not a team full of jump shooters," McFerrin said. "I thought Mary did a nice job early getting her feet set, but our post players got a little happy feet and didn't handle the double team very well. When you have a team with three shooters, Alex, Jasmine and Nicole, they didn't need to game plan off of them. I thought Mary Jackson was absolutely outstanding tonight guarding the ball baseline to baseline, we just didn't always have good defense behind her tonight."
Memphis will close out the road stand at Tulane, Sunday, at 5 p.m. That game will be televised live on CSS and CBS College Sports. The Tigers will play their final two homes games of the season next week, hosting SMU, Thursday, and UAB on Sunday. The Sunday game will be senior day for seniors Savannah Ellis, Starkitsha Luellen-Higgins, Taylor Mumphrey and Alex Winchell.