Women's Basketball Rebounds Past Mercer, 54-40
Nov. 19, 2004
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Lady Tiger basketball team (1-0) out-rebounded Mercer 33-12 in the second half and allowed the Bears just four offensive rebounds in the final 20 minutes to survive an off shooting night in a 54-40 win to open both team's regular seasons, Friday.
With both teams shooting under 25 percent for the game, defense and rebounding were big in the 2004-05 season opener.
Mercer led 23-21 at the half after the Bears defense slowed down the Lady Tiger offense and held Memphis to a 22.2 percent clip from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Mercer forced Memphis into 11 turnovers in the first half, but could not capitalize on its own offensive end, shooting just 9-for-37 (24.3 percent).
"The first half, we made some turnovers and they fought our pace and I think they knew that we were a running team, but we started to make a little run in the second half," senior Raven Rogers (Jackson, Miss./Murrah HS) said. Rogers would finish the night with her seventh career double-double, with 11 points and a career-best 17 rebounds.
It took both teams until the 17:33 mark in the opening 20 minutes to get onto the scoreboard, when Mercer's Tanya Kessenich hit a jumper to put the visiting team up 2-0. Senior Victoria Crawford (Birmingham, Ala./Woodlawn HS) would score Memphis' first points of the 2004-05 season with a jumper of her own at the 16:59 mark, and when Jessica Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./FAMU HS) hit a free-throw for her first collegiate points, Memphis was up 7-4. Marie Reid (Augusta, Ga./Richmond Academy) added her first two collegiate points on the ensuing trip down the floor, for Memphis to lead 9-4 before Mercer began a 6-0 run to retake the lead at 10-9.
Hall would feed Reid in the lane to knot the score at 21 all at the 1:13 mark in the opening half, but a Memphis turnover and a flurry of Bear offensive rebounding resulted in a Erin Keller jumper that sent Mercer to the locker room up two.
Memphis came out in the second half determined to swing the momentum back its way. When Devin Necaise (Necaise Crossing, Miss./Hancock HS) hit a three-point field goal at the 10:58 mark, Memphis found itself back on top 24-23.
But Mercer would swing the momentum back toward the visitor's end of the floor by going zone in the second half.
"(Rebounding) was big because our shots weren't falling," Head Coach Blair Savage said. " And there's going to be nights when that happens, and we told them if your shots aren't falling, that's when you have got to rebound and play defense. Anybody can do that any night. And rebounding and defense will generate our offense, which it did. We were able to push by Mercer the last few minutes. They got tired and I think we were able to push by them. The last five minutes of a game separates the average team from a good team. The last five minutes, if we're in good condition, we're gonna start blowing by people, and I think that was very evident tonight."
Both teams missed a barrage of shots in the opening minutes of the second half before Mercer converted a series of open looks from the wings at the 14 minute mark in a Memphis defensive lapse.But a Hall lay-up put Memphis back up top 38-36, and the Lady Tigers would never look back, giving Mercer just four offensive rebounds to try to get its offense fired up.
"Defense wins games really," Crawford said after the game. " Offense is something that you still have to do to win, but defensively if you play hard, more than likely, you'll get the reward in the end." Crawford would finish with 11 points, a team-high five assists, two blocks, two steals and a career-best 15 rebounds for her second career double-double.
Sophomore Devin Necaise would also find the double-digit mark, scoring five of her 10 points in the final 1:52 of the game to put three Lady Tigers in double-digit scoring. Kaneshi Hart would add eight rebounds and five points, while Megan Gooch finished with seven rebounds and a block.
No one from Mercer would make the double-digit point mark. Karen Hickman and Rosanna Davis each finished with eight points, while Davis and Jessica Miller would each finished with six rebounds.
The 55 Lady Tiger points is the lowest total for a Memphis-won game since a 55-51 win over Ole Miss during the 1989-1990 season.
The Lady Tigers will not have much time to get their offense back in tune, as Memphis hosts A-Sun pre-season favorite Lipscomb, an NCAA tournament team from last year, Monday, at 7 p.m. Mercer will return home to face Florida A&M, Tuesday.