Tigers Upend No. 3 Seed Rice to Advance to Semifinals
March 10, 2011
EL PASO, Texas - -
Free throw shooting, timely rebounding and a defense that held Rice's top three scorers to a combined 20 points pushed No. 6 seed Memphis (21-11) past No. 3 seed Rice (18-13) in the quarterfinals of the Buick Conference USA Championships Thursday. With the win, Memphis advances to the semifinals of the C-USA tournament for the first time since the 1997-98 season.
Rice jumped up 5-3 to start the game, before Memphis got scoring from four different players to take the lead at 10-5. But the Owls battled back by running everything through freshman all-conference honoree Jessica Kuster, who finished with 10 first half points. Outside of a bucket from Morgan Mayse, no other Rice starter scored in the opening half, as Memphis out-rebounded the Owls 23-21 and shot 40.7 percent from the field while building a 27-23 half time lead. Ramses Lonlack grabbed eight of her team-high 11 rebounds in the opening half, while Brittany Carter came off the bench to score eight first half points.
In the second half, Rice point guard D'Frantz Smart tried to take over for the Owls, scoring eight straight Owl points. But once Memphis made the adjustment to Smart, the Tigers spent the rest of the time on defense frustrating Smart's teammates, holding Brianna Hypolite scoreless in the half and Morgan Mayse to just one bucket late in the game. But Mayse's bucket helped cut the Memphis lead to four at 47-44 with 7:16 to play before Memphis answered with layups for Jasmine Lee and Mary Jackson to push back ahead by six at 51-45 with 3:44 to play.
But the aggressive Tiger defense got caught flat footed once or twice, fouling the Owls and sending Kuster to the line, where the freshman was 6-for-6 and helped again cut a Memphis lead to four at 51-47 with 3:31 to play. Memphis then turned to its go-to scorer and a jumper from the elbow from Brittany Carter and a Memphis 10-for-12 stint in the final two minutes of the game from the free throw line helped Memphis stave off the Owls, 63-52.
Ramses Lonlack finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Brittany Carter scored a game-high 21 points. Jasmine Lee added 15 points and five rebounds while shooting 6-for-12 from the field. Alex Winchell added seven points, two rebounds and three assists in the win.
Kuster led Rice with 16 points, while Smart finished with 13 points on 4-for-17 shooting. Megan Elliott added eight points in the loss.
Memphis will face No. 2 seed UCF on Friday at 9 a.m. (MT) in a televised game on CBS College. The women's tournament field will now move in to the Don Haskins Center for the remainder of the tournament.