Women's Basketball Falls Short in Exhibition Game
Nov. 7, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - -
Despite a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds from senior forward Ashley Thornton, the University of Memphis women's basketball team came up just short, 73-66, in an exhibition game against DT-3, Friday afternoon.
"As we advance through a game and get to the 30-minute mark, or have just eight minutes to play remaining and see a lead disappear, the thing we have to fight most is the fatigue and lack of belief that starts messing with your mind, and I think that's what happened," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "But leading up to that, I think it was transition defense, rebounding and shot selection that really got us in trouble in that stretch where (DT-3) took the lead."
The two teams played a tight first half. Memphis forced DT-3 in to 18 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of the game, converting them to 19 points in the first 20 minutes. But DT-3 made the adjustment to the Tigers' defense at the break, committing just eight second half turnovers, and allowing Memphis to convert that to just six points in the second half. Without the easy baskets out of their own defense powering the break, the Tigers struggled to get in to their own offense at times.
"I liked our tempo early in the game, at least through the first half and the early part of the second," McFerrin said. "I felt like we have more of a system than we've showed at any point so far this season. I thought our ball pressure and lane pressure was pretty good until about 10 minutes to go in the game. But at that point, it was a different game. It was a fatigue factor and it was a mental letdown also when we saw the scoreboard flip. Then I saw body language that looked very defeatist. We have to be very stubborn about who we are becoming. We have to be very stubborn about falling back into old habits and old mind sets."
Memphis answered back from a four-point deficit with 6:16 remaining in the opening half with a 9-2 run that pushed the Tigers ahead 37-30 with 2:44 to play. Memphis stole six passes in that four minute stretch and rode the cushion in to the locker room with a 41-36 lead.
Memphis pushed the lead to double-digits early in the second off a free-throw from freshman Ramses Lonlack. But Lacey Burns knocked down a three point field goal on the ensuing trip and DT-3 quickly got out in transition to convert two layups and converted the and-one to cut the Memphis deficit to 48-44 with 15:54 to play.
The Tigers tried to regroup at the under 16 minute media timeout and got in to a scrum under the offensive board trying to corral a missed Memphis layup. The result was a DT-3 personal and technical foul, sending the Tigers to the line for a shot at a four-point swing. But Memphis converted just one of four attempts and three minutes later, Anitha Smith-Williams knocked down a three from the corner to tie the game for the sixth time with 12:16 to play.
"I thought we had a lot of lost opportunities. There was one time we went to the free-throw line for a technical and then a one-and-one and we came away with just one point on four attempts, so we lost three points there," McFerrin said.
The next three minutes would feature two more ties before Memphis used a pair of layups from Paris Leonard and Ashley Thornton to pull back ahead 61-58 with 7:55 to play. But former BYU player Ashley Cheesman would track down one of her own missed layups and stuck it back for the seventh lead change of the game. The Tigers quickly answered with a three-point field goal from Alex Winchell to go back in front 64-62, but Memphis then committed back-to-back fouls to allow DT-3 to convert a pair of free-throws and tie up the game at 64-64 with 5:14 remaining.
McFerrin called a timeout to get the offense settled down after the team had taken two bad shots from the field on the previous trip to the Tiger end of the floor, but the offense stalled as the shot clock expired, giving DT-3 the ball back with 4:44 to play. DT-3 answered with a 4-0 run and Memphis cut the deficit to 68-66 with 2:12 remaining before Anitha Smith-Williams knocked down her second three-point field goal of the game to push the lead out to five.
Memphis came back and tried to get off three-point field goals of its own, but DT-3 matched the Tigers' rebounding efforts, with each team tracking down eight rebounds in the final 4:19 of the game, and held on for the victory.
"I thought it (DT-3 coming back from a deficit) came from their defensive rebounding and getting out in transition and our giving up a lot of easy stuff," McFerrin said. "Fatigue was starting to show, but we've got to play through that, we are going to play this way so we have got to learn how to acquire that toughness with eight or 10 minutes to go in the game. We've got to find that mental toughness late in the games."
Paris Leonard led Memphis with 17 points on 8-for-20 shooting, while Tehani Goldsmith and Ramses Lonlack each hit double-digits in their first action in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, finishing with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Cheesman and Lauren Riley-Varley led DT-3 with 15 points apiece, while Riley-Varley added nine rebounds. Anitha Smith-Williams added 13 points.
Memphis will have exactly one week before stepping onto the Elma Roane Fieldhouse floor for a game that counts in the records. The Tigers will host Northern Arizona, Friday, at 7 p.m. Both teams finished 10-20 last season and this will be the regular season opener for both squads.
"Our execution has to be better," McFerrin said. "Our mental and physical toughness has to continue to rise and this is a game where whoever has the upper hand late in the game may have an advantage, so we have to be mentally tougher late in the game."