Lady Tigers Looking for 12th Tourney Championship
Nov. 28, 2003
MEMPHIS, TENN. - The University of Memphis women's basketball team is in position to win their 12th straight Lady Tiger Thanksgiving Classic after advancing to the championship round with a 78-65 win over Eastern Kentucky at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse Friday evening.
The Lady Tigers, which improved to 3-0 with the victory, will play Ole Miss in the title game on Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern Kentucky will face Nebraska in the consolation game to be played at 5 p.m.
"This was a very good win for us," said coach Joye Lee-McNelis. "I was concerned early on about playing Eastern Kentucky in the first round because I knew they were a very seasoned group and finished last season with an 18-11 record. "Our biggest concern was their point guard Laura Shelton, and I thought Princess (Swilley) did a phenomenal defensive job on her. She (Shelton) is a very good player.
"I don't think we focused this much on a single player since we played Houston and tried to hold Chandi Jones, who was the league's Player of the Year, below her scoring average," added McNelis.
Junior Jennifer Sullivan recorded her second straight career-high scoring effort with 20 points against EKU. Sullivan tallied a new career high of 17 points in Monday's win over Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tenn. Against EKU, Sullivan was 8-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe. She also hauled in a team-high seven rebounds, and totaled an assist and a blocked shot. Sullivan is the second Lady Tiger already this season to hit the 20-point mark, as junior Victoria Crawford totaled 23 points in the season opener against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
"Everybody played a huge part in this win," said McNelis. "We had solid balance in scoring. The biggest plus was Jennifer (Sullivan) who scored 20 points and had seven rebounds. That is huge for her. You also have to look at Princess who had nine assists and only one turnover. Nine assists is 20 points. When you look at 20 points, and the eight she scored, she played a part in 28 of our points. That is a huge plus for us."
Sophomore Tamika Butler and junior Raven Rogers also scored in double digits with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Butler, who set a new career high earlier in the week against TTU with five treys, was held in check from behind the arc with just one three pointer. Senior Princess Swilley led the offense with a career-high nine assists. Her previous career high was six, which she totaled once as a junior and once as a sophomore.
For the second time this season, five or more Lady Tigers hauled in five or more rebounds as Memphis outrebounded the Lady Colonels, 51-34. Seniors Jordie Soso and Princess Swilley, Crawford, and Rogers all totaled six boards apiece, while freshman Megan Gooch posted five boards. This was the first time since the 2000-01 season that Memphis had six or more players total five or more rebounds a game. That last opponent was Eastern Kentucky in the first game of the Rice Tournament. In that game, eight Lady Tigers managed five or more rebounds as Memphis outrebounded the Lady Colonels, 62-35.
The Lady Tigers took to the locker room with a 45-23 lead after holding EKU to just 29 percent shooting (9-of-31) from the field. The 22-point cushion was just enough to help the Lady Tigers remain unbeaten this year, as EKU shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) in the second half to outscore the Lady Tigers, 42-33. The Lady Colonels opened the second half with an 8-0 run as Memphis missed their first seven shots of the half in a drought that lasted just under five minutes. Memphis managed to force EKU to turn the ball over 25 times in the game, scoring 23 points off the turnovers. Memphis finished the game with 41.7 percent (30-of-72) from the field, and struggled from the line, hitting just half of their 28 charity shots.
Katie Kelly led EKU in scoring with 14 points off a 4-of-10 effort from the field and a 5-of-7 effort from the line. Kelly, who also led her squad with three steals, was the only Lady Colonel to score in double digits. Laura Shelton, who came into the game with a 14.0 points per game average, was held to just four points. Kelly and Pam Garrett led EKU with five boards apiece.