Memphis Advances to Second Round in WBI with 72-67 Victory over UMKC
March 18, 2010
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis women's basketball team made a successful return to postseason play with a 72-67 win over UMKC on Thursday in the first round of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. Memphis had not appeared in a postseason tournament since advancing to the second round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament in 2004.
The Tigers, led by Brittany Carter's 22 points on seven-of-15 shooting and Nicole Dickson's double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds), were able to hang on for the win after the Kangaroos of UMKC made it tough for them with a strong second-half showing led by point guard Dayon Hall-Jones' 13 second-half points on five-of-seven made field goals. Ten of Dickson's 14 points came in the second period.
Up 12 at the half, 37-25, Memphis was able to play shot-for-shot with the Kangaroos at the beginning of the second period, before a 18-7 UMKC run erased what was an 11 point Tiger lead at the 16:20 mark. The Kangaroos were propelled by nine of Hall-Jones' 13 second-half points during the run. Brianna Eldridge, a sophomore from Stilwell, Kansas, hit a three-pointer for her first points of the game to tie the game, 51-51, with 9:44 remaining in the game.
Alex Winchell gave Memphis the lead back with a three-pointer on the other end, putting the Tigers ahead 54-51.
The Kangaroos were able to knot the game up three more times (54-54 at 7:50, 56-56 with 7:36 remaining and 58-58 with 6:54 left) but each time the Tigers hit crucial shots in order to take the lead back from their opponents. Nicole Dickson's used put-backs of a Savannah Ellis missed layup and a Carter jumper to give the Tigers a lead they would not give up the rest of the game.
UMKC came as close as two points from the Tigers the rest of the way, but converted free-throws by Dickson and Chatia Kelsey, after Kelsey made a crucial rebound on UMKC's last-ditch attempt by Hall-Jones, sealed the victory for Memphis.
Alex Winchell chipped in 14 points, including three three-pointers to go with Carter and Dickson's big nights. Starkitsha Luellen-Higgins led the Memphis attack on the offensive boards, finishing with a career-high 12 rebounds in the game. The junior playing for her hometown Tigers, had nine boards in the opening period. Memphis finished the game outrebounding the Kangaroos 41-29. Memphis had 19 offensive rebounds compared to five for UMKC. Luellen-Higgins and Dickson each had five offensive rebounds apiece.
Kim Nezianya, a 6-0 freshman forward from Carrolltown, Texas, led the Kangaroos with 22 points off the bench, including seven-of-15 made field goals and seven converted free throws. Hall-Jones' 13 second-half points were the second-most for a UMKC scorer.
The Tigers finished the game shooting 40.9-percent from the field. UMKC was unable to get the victory despite shooting 52.0-percent on the game and 57.7-percent in the second half.
The Tigers' first half was highlighted by an 11-0 run, in which the Kangaroos did not score for nearly four minutes, from the 6:13 mark until 2:27 was remaining in the opening period. Alex Winchell's crucial conversion of a three-point play started the Memphis run, which quickly was extended by a Ramses Lonlack steal and layup.
With Thursday's win, the Tigers improve to 5-0 all-time against UMKC. Memphis is 10-12 all-time in the postseason after the victory.
The U of M will continue its postseason run with a 2 p.m., tipoff on Sun., March 21 at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse against the Wichita State Shockers. The Tigers are the No. 1 seed in the West Region, while Wichita State is the No. 4 seed. The winner of the second round game in the West Region will face either Washington or Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on March 24 or 25 on the home site of the team with the higher RPI.