Tigers Miss Opportunity for First Win Over Marshall
Feb. 22, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - - The University of Memphis women's basketball team (11-16, 4-10 C-USA) led early in the game, but shot just 36.7 percent in the second half in a 70-61 loss to Marshall (14-13, 7-7 C-USA) on Senior Day at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, Sunday.
Memphis led by as many as seven in the first half, after Alex Winchell sandwiched a pair of three-point field goals around a pair of Ramses Lonlack free-throws for a 24-17 Tiger lead with 7:24 to play. Both teams had struggled in the early minutes of the game to put together any type of sustained run, as the lead changed hands eight times in the first 12 minutes of the game.
But Alyssa Hammond stuck back an offensive rebound at the 7:02 mark that started a 17-5 Herd run. While Marshall was on its seven-minute run to end the half, Memphis' offense stalled, managing just one bucket, a three-point field goal from Paris Leonard, and a pair of free-throws from Ashley Thornton. Memphis missed seven shots from the field in that stretch, finally managing a bucket with the clock running out on the first half, which was waived off as it was not shot before the clock expired. The missed shots, combined with seven Tiger turnovers in that same seven-minute stretch, helped Marshall head in to the locker room with a 34-29 lead
"I think early in the game, we were able to get some things done," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "But I felt that from an effort standpoint, we were a little bit subpar. We were leaving a lot of things to chance. I think we were hoping that rebounds would come our way instead of going to get them. We were hoping they would miss shots instead of truly defending them. I was a little bit disappointed because I thought that we wanted the game to be easy tonight, but it's never going to be easy when somebody walks into your gym. It was senior night, but I don't want to say that the emotion of senior night had anything to do with it. I just thought we were a little bit flat and a little bit subpar."
Marshall came out and got three quick buckets, including two from Tynikki Crook, to push the lead to nine at 40-31 with 17:02 to play. But freshman Ramses Lonlack then turned up her energy level, getting out for a layup off an assist from Shae Seagraves before then emerging from an offensive rebound scrum with the ball. She returned the favor from Seagraves with a kick to where the wide-open shooter sat on the edge of the key. Seagraves knocked down the triple, cutting the lead to three at 42-39 with 14:30 to play.
Memphis then went down and forced a turnover on the other end as Lonlack forced a travel call on the Marshall ball-handler, but Memphis responded with a turnover of its own, missing an opportunity to cut the deficit to either one or a tie. And to make matters worse, Marshall went right back inside to Crook on the ensuing possession, who hit the easy layup to push the lead back to five, 44-39.
Lonlack would again try to fire up her teammates, driving and hitting a jumper in the paint to whittle the game back to a three-point edge, but Memphis again missed an opportunity, as Ashley Thornton missed both free-throws and Angelica Harris beat all the Tigers down the floor for a layup to again make it a two-possession game.
Marshall kept trying to push the game open to double-digits, but Paris Leonard would hit her first field goal of the second half with 10:47 to play and the Tigers would get three-point field goals from both Leonard and Lonlack to keep the Herd in reach. Memphis then caught what could have been a big break when Crook picked up her fourth foul while trying to block a Shekeira Copeland shot. Copeland converted the bucket and one, cutting the score to 55-51 with 7:41 to play.
But it wouldn't get any better for Memphis with Crook on the sideline, as Marshall knocked down four straight layups to finally blow the score open to double-digits at 63-51 with 5:52 to play following a tough jumper from a step inside the three-point line from Chantelle Handy.
Memphis would mount one final run, following another layup and one from Copeland and a layup from Ramses Lonlack. A pair of free-throws from Ashley Thornton would cut the score to 63-58, but Memphis missed three straight layups and committed a turnover that Handy took to the other end for a layup. Marshall would then close out the game at the free-throw line, closing out the 70-61 victory for a second straight road win.
Tynikki Crook led all players with 24 point sand 14 rebounds, adding two blocks and three assists, while Alyssa Hammond scored 14 points, with six rebounds and five assists, while Chantelle Handy scored 13 points in 37 minutes of play, shooting 6-for-10 from the floor.
Memphis' top two leading scorers, seniors Ashley Thornton and Paris Leonard, were held to single digits. Freshman Ramses Lonlack added 20 points, five rebounds and two steals, but also had six turnovers in 38 minutes. Alex Winchell scored 14 points for a second straight double-digit game outing, the first time in her two-year Tiger career she has put together two straight games in double-digits. She was 4-for-8 from three-point range and had four assists. Thorton was held to nine points and just four rebounds, while Leonard scored eight points with three rebounds while struggling from the floor, shooting 3-for-11. Leonard also had an uncharacteristic night to wrap up her home career, committing seven turnovers in 29 minutes of play.
The Tigers will now finish the regular season on the road, playing at UCF, Thursday, at 7 p.m. (ET). That game will be televised and will air live on the Bright House Sports Network and will air on a same-day, tape-delay basis at 9 p.m. (ET) on CSS. The game will also air on a same-day, tape delay basis at 10 p.m. (ET) on CBS-C. Memphis' final regular season game will be a Saturday game at Southern Miss, Saturday. That game was pushed back to 5 p.m. to accommodate a USM baseball home game and can be heard on WUMR, 91.7 FM with Jeff Brightwell on the play-by-play. The 2009 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship is set to get underway on March 5-8 in New Orleans. For the past 13 years the league has awarded the championship trophy to eight different outstanding teams. Fans may purchase their tickets in advance by going through the University of Memphis Ticket Office at 901-678-2334. General admission, All-Session tickets are $50 for adults and $40 for youth, while Single Session prices are $10 for adults and $7 for youth.