Tigers Advance to Quarterfinals With 71-63 Victory Over USM
March 9, 2011
EL PASO, Texas - -
A first half press that forced 13 Southern Miss turnovers helped Memphis build a 34-25 half time lead held up in a 71-63 victory in the opening round of the Buick Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship at Memorial Gym on the campus of UTEP, Wednesday afternoon. With the win, Memphis advanced to the quarterfinals, where the Tigers will face No. 3 seed Rice, Thursday, at 2:30 p.m.
"I thought our press was really a big part of creating separation in the game," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "Mary Jackson was great at denying Tanesha Washington the ball and then we shot our shots at the free throw line to make that separation we created with some full court pressure in the first half stand up."
Memphis trailed early as Southern Miss came out very aggressive. But the Tigers tied the game up at the free-throw line at 19-19, then Mary Jackson stole a ball and laid it in to get Memphis a lead it would not relinquish. The remainder of the first half was physical, with Southern Miss getting whistled for 14 first half fouls that put three Golden Eagles, including starters Rachel Vigers and Genesia Dunbar on the bench with three fouls apiece. Memphis took advantage with Dunbar out of the game, out-rebounding USM 28-20 in the opening half and converting 14-of-20 free-throw attempts in the half.
USM calmed down in the locker room and came out more deliberately working the ball inside. The Golden Eagles used a 12-5 run to pull to cut a double-digit Memphis lead following a Winchell three all the way down to 39-34 with 16:12 to play. Memphis struggled to score from the field outside of a pair of buckets from Jasmine Lee , but kept scoring from the free-throw line to keep USM at bay. But the return of Dunbar gave Memphis fits inside, as she grabbed seven of her 10 rebounds in the second half. Another offensive stick back, this one from Washington, cut the Tiger lead to three at 52-49 before Lee answered back with a layup that was followed by a Mary Jackson three to push Memphis back ahead 57-49.
Memphis had to hang on from there, as USM grabbed 11 of their 24 second half boards off the offensive glass to keep within range of the Tigers. But Memphis closed out the win with defensive stops and held USM without a field goal the final 1:11 of the game.
Lee finished with 18 points and six rebounds, including a 10-for-13 stint from the free-throw line. Mary Jackson added 10 points, as did Brittany Carter, in Carter's first game action since Feb. 13th. Alex Winchell added nine points and a team-high five assists, while Nicole Dickson added eight points, five rebounds and three steals in 29 minutes. Carter's second basket of the game put her over 1,000 points for her career at Memphis.
Geneshia Dunbar led USM with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Danielle Johnson came off the bench to add 10 points in 21 minutes.
Memphis will now face No. 3 seed Rice, Thursday, at 2:30 p.m. (MT).