Women's Basketball Goes Long In 77-71 Victory
Feb. 24, 2013
MEMPHIS - - The University of Memphis women's basketball team (16-11, 7-6 C-USA) hit a season-high 10 three-point field goals and weathered a furious 41-22 UTEP run over the final 15 minutes of the game for a 77-71 victory at FedExForum, Sunday. The win moves the Tigers in to a tie for fourth in the league standings with UTEP and UAB at 7-6. The Tigers swept UAB, 2-0, and used Sunday's win to hold the tiebreaker over UTEP with three regular season games remaining.
"I thought we played as good a half as we have all year in the first half," Head Coach Melissa McFerrinsaid. "We have not had a team play us zone for an entire half before. I thought we were flawless in the first half. We made the right reads, made the right passes, and made shots."
UTEP went up early, leading 5-2, before the Tigers unleashed from the three-point line, going on an 11-0 run to take their first lead of the day off a Nicole Dickson three. Three of Dickson's teammates also drained threes in the run, including made buckets from Lauren McGraw, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Ariel Hearn. Abdul-Qaadir then took a steal the other way for a lay-up, pushing the Memphis lead to 18-9 with 12:53 to play, but UTEP prevented the deficit from becoming double-digits with their fifth triple of the afternoon, as Kayla Thornton, who finished with a game-high 32 points, hit a three that started an 8-0 Miner run that pulled the visitors to just 23-22 down with 7:59 to play.
But Memphis kept finding Dickson, who scored seven straight points to push Memphis up 30-23 with 5:29 to play. The senior, who was playing her final career game in FedExForum, scored 20 first half points on 8-for-14 shooting to help Memphis build a 41-28 halftime lead.
Abdul-Qaadir opened the second half with a bang, draining her second triple of the night, and the Tigers pushed the lead all the way to 25 as Dickson drained her fifth three-pointer of the night, to lead 55-30 with 14:03 to play.
But then the Tigers started racking up the fouls on the defensive end, sending UTEP to the line for 10 straight made free-throws in a little under three minutes. By the time the clock hit 10 minutes left in the game, the Miners were already in the double bonus, and we using the opportunities to score with the clock stopped to whittle what had been a 25-point lead down to 13 at 57-44 with 10:10 remaining.,
UTEP also switched out of its half court zone defense and went with a trapping half-court defense to force turnovers on three straight Tiger trips. While Memphis was not getting anything out of its offensive sets, UTEP was finding Thornton at the three-point line in theirs. The junior forward hit a three with 7:55 remaining in the game to cut the Tigers' lead to single digits at 61-52. Memphis answered back inside with a layup from Pa'Sonna Hope, but Thornton got loose again for a layup and scored six of UTEP's next eight points to keep the Tigers' lead at nine at 69-60 with 5:26 to play.
"UTEP was desperate in the second half. They were down 25 and they had to play that trapping defense," McFerrin said. "It felt like the building was on fire, everyone was scrambling. It's difficult to play when you are never out of a trapping situation, but Qisi and Ariel will learn from this. We will see that style of play again. It was pretty harried out there in the second half."
But the Tigers kept sending their best free-throw shooter to the line. Abdul-Qaadir broke her own school record by knocking down her first five free-throw tries on the night, making 31 consecutive makes. She missed her sixth try, but when she made her seventh free-throw, she secured a career-high 19 points and helped close the book on the Tigers' seventh C-USA victory of the season.
Dickson led Memphis with 27 points, five assists and two blocks. Abdul-Qaadir finished with 19 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor, adding five assists and a team-high h tree steals, and Hearn finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. Hope added eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds off the bench.
Thornton led all players with 32 points for UTEP, including 6-of-13 shooting from three-point range. Anete Steinberga added 16 points and five rebounds while Chrishauna Parker finished with 10 rebounds for the Miners.
Memphis will take to the road for two straight games, playing at Tulsa, Thursday night, then traveling to East Carolina, Sunday. The Tigers return home for their final regular season home game on Thursday, Mar. 7th, when they host Marshall on the University of Memphis Senior Day.
- The 10 three-point field goals made was a season-high for Memphis.
- Bilqis Abdul-Qaadirwas 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to break her own school record for consecutive free throws made. The mark is now 31 as she missed her seventh attempt before making her eighth. She finished with a career-high 19 points in the win.
- The win moves Memphis into a tie for fourth in the C-USA standings at 7-6. Memphis has three regular season games remaining.