Tigers Fall to League Leading SMU 74-67
MEMPHIS, Tenn.-Memphis (14-11, C-USA 5-6) fell to Conference USA foe SMU (19-5, C-USA 10-1) 74-67 on Sunday at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. Four Tigers notched double-figures scoring in the hard fought loss to the C-USA first place team.
"I could be disappointed in this loss," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "But this team that was on the floor tonight, this team can win a lot of games. We had some good balance in the scoring area, but we just got killed on the glass. But that team that was out there, that team can win some games and gives us something to build on."
The Tigers started the game with an offensive flurry going on an 11-0 scoring run over a six minute span. Senior Nicole Dickson kicked-off the run with a lay-up, followed by two free throws from Asianna Fuqua-Bey to put Memphis up 6-3.
Twenty seconds later, Fuqua-Bey extended the Tigers' lead with a lay-up of her own. Dickson then added two more points with a jumper, followed by two foul shots from Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir. Laruen McGraw followed connecting on one of two from the charity stripe to put the Tigers up 13-3.
Lexus Williams ended the Memphis offensive onslaught sinking two from the line following a foul by Dickson. In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Memphis defense held the Mustangs to only one field goal.
SMU fought back into the game, eventually taking the lead before the half ended on a pair of free throws. Trailing 25-18 with 3:05 left to play, SMU's Gabrielle Wilkins nailed a jumper cutting the Tigers' lead to five. A minute later, Alisha Filmore sank another jumper to inch the Mustangs closer. Wilkins then sank one of two from the free throw line pulling SMU within two of the Memphis lead and the Mustangs took the lead for the first time since leading 3-2 in the early minutes of the game, heading to the locker room up 30-29.
In the second half, Memphis and SMU traded baskets and the lead. In total, the two teams would tie 10 times and would have nine lead changes. Trailing 64-61 with less than three minutes left to play, the Tigers' Jamila Ajanku sank a jumper to pull the Tigers within one of the SMU lead. The Mustangs responded with a trey from Keena Mays to keep the upper hand.
Following a foul by Wilkins, Fuqua-Bey sank two at the line keeping the Tigers within striking distance 67-65. The Mustangs fired back with a jumper by Filmore, extending their lead to four. Dickson then scored what proved to be the final points for Memphis with a jumper cutting the Mustangs' lead to two. However, SMU sank five of six at the charity stripe to put the game away 74-67.
"When we are close late in the game, that's when we have to be the most disciplined," McFerrin said. "We gave up the three and then fouled late and that sent them to the free-throw line."
Dickson led the Tigers with 14 points as Ajanaku set a career-high, hauling in 11 rebounds. Filmore led the scoring effort for SMU with 21 points. Akil Simpson added a double-double of 13 points and 17 rebounds for SMU.
The Tigers fall to 2-5 this season when trailing at the half, and carry on overall record of 2-7 in games played on Sunday. In C-USA games played on Sundays, Memphis is 1-5 on the season.
The Tigers return to action on Thursday against league foe Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. (CT). For more information on the University of Memphis women's basketball program and all Tigers athletics, please visit GoTigersGo.com.