Women's Basketball Opens C-USA Slate at Houston Thursday

Memphis (9-5) at Houston (6-7)
Hofheinz Pavilion (Houston, Texas)
Thur., January 10, 2013 - 7 pm (CT) 

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Memphis women's basketball (9-5) opens its Conference USA slate on the road at Houston (6-7), Thursday. The Tigers are 3-1 in C-USA openers under Melissa McFerrin and are carrying a six-game winning streak with them into Thursday night's match-up.

Tigers vs. Houston
This is the 24th meeting between the two teams and Memphis took the series lead last year, 12-11, with a 69-41 win in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. The trip to Memphis was a rare one for the Cougars, as a scheduling fluke had Memphis play in Hofheinz Pavilion for three straight seasons starting with the 2009 season. The win last season snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Cougars for Memphis that dated back to 2004. The Tigers won their first four meetings in games played in Houston, but are now 5-6 in the series in games played in the Lone Star state.

About Houston
Todd Buchanan is in his third season with the Cougars. After inheriting a team with five seniors in his first season, he has been rebuilding the Cougars' program in the last two seasons. Last year, Buchanan and the Cougars suffered a major loss when senior point guard Porsche Landry went down with an injury in the third game of the season last year. Landry opened the season with 37 points in a game against New Mexico State in the opener, then was lost to her teammates two games later. But Landry was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and returns this season to help shepherd 10 newcomers into the Houston program.

Like the Tigers, Houston brought in one of the most well-regarded recruited classes in the country. The Cougars' class was ranked No. 40 in ESPNHoopGurlz.com's ratings, just one behind the Tigers. That young squad has gotten experience against SEC foes Mississippi State and Alabama and Big 12 foes TCU and Texas A&M.

Powered by a Porsche
The Cougars offense is powered by Porsche Landry. The sixth year senior is a handful for defenders to try to keep in front of, as the speedy Houston native ranks sixth in C-USA in scoring (16.9 ppg) and fifth in assists (3.9). The guard will find her own shot, find her teammates and can also pull up and knock down the three, ranking fifth in the league in three-point field goal percentage (37.1). In an overtime win against Delaware State in their last game, Landry was 12-for-20 from the floor, finishing just shy of a triple double with 30 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to go with four steals, while playing in 43 of a possible 45 minutes.

Inside, junior college transfer Yasmeen Thompson is a beneficiary of Landry's work. Thompson ranks second on the team in scoring, with 9.1 ppg and leads the squad with 8.8 rebounds an outing. She is coming off a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds in 41 minutes in the Cougars' win in their last outing.

Classroom Conference USA Opening Thursday Night
Between Houston's 10 newcomers and Memphis' eight newcomers (not counting two new assistant coaches), there will be a lot of people on the floor Thursday night learning what Conference USA basketball is all about. Houston returns three starters from last season, and Memphis returns two, combining for one starting fivesome between the two of them.

Back to Back Weekly Honors
Senior forward Nicole Dickson and freshman guard Ariel Hearnswept the Conference USA weekly honors for a second consecutive week. While Conference USA has had players win the award for repeat weeks in both awards, they have never had the same two players from the same school win back-to-back awards. That should pretty firmly put the target on both players as Conference USA play opens across the league this week.

On This Date in History -- January 10
As you would expect from a January date, the January 10th one is filled with conference results. Memphis is 6-1 on January 10th historically, including three conference road wins.

On This Date in Tiger History
1/10/08 Marshall 61, at Memphis 47 *
1/10/99 Memphis 66, at Southern Miss 64 *
1/10/97 Memphis 70, at UAB 60 *
1/10/91 Memphis 78, at Tulane 68 *
1/10/87 Memphis 84, Virginia Tech 59 *
1/10/83 Memphis 79 No. 14 South Carolina 67 %
 1/10/80 Memphis 62, Oklahoma 54

C-USA Openers Under McFerrin

Memphis is 8-9 all-time in its C-USA openers, including a mark of 3-1 since Melissa McFerrin has taken over the program. In C-USA road openers, the Tigers are also 3-1.

The Tigers are 3-1in C-USA road openers under McFerrin.

Memphis in C-USA Openers Under McFerrin
2008-09 -- at Rice, W, 72-69
2009-10 -- at UCF W, 49-47
2010-11 -- at East Carolina W, 87-75
2011-12 -- at UTEP L, 66-60

Triple Digits for the First Time Under McFerrin

Memphis did something in the last game that it had not done under Coach McFerrin before Saturday afternoon. Memphis had its hands full in the first half against Wright State, watching as the Raiders trimmed what had been a 14 point lead all the way down to five and led just 53-44 at the break. But after getting an earful about their defensive effort in the locker room, the Tigers clamped down and scored 22 of the next 24 points in the game to blow open the lead. McFerrin pulled starters Nicole Dickson and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir with the team well up, but the bench kept the offense moving, all the way to the 100 point barrier. That marked the first time since Mar.19, 1999 that a Tiger team scored 100 or more points in a game.

Trio of Freshmen in the Starting Lineup Saturday
Memphis has been starting every other game this season with two freshmen in the starting lineup. It was Mooriah Rowser and Ariel Hearn to start the season before Rowser went down with a knee injury and was lost for the season. Hearn was then joined by Jaymie Jackson in the lineup starting with Memphis' fifth game of the season. That duo was joined by freshman post Asianna Fuqua-Beyin the last game, as the Chicago native made her first collegiate start in the win over Wright State, finishing with five points and three rebounds in just 15 minutes of play as the Tigers' bench saw a lot of action with the game in hand against the Raiders.

That was the first time since Jan. 31, 1994 that Memphis has had that many freshmen in the starting lineup. In that game, a Memphis win over Saint Louis, Memphis started four freshmen -- Heather Newlon, Regan Fedric, Jennifer Shepherd and Kitty Allen.

Someone Will Get Defensive
As is often the case with newcomers to the Division I college basketball game, the offensive end sometimes comes around quickly, with the defense a little behind. That may be the case with a combined 18 newcomers on the two rosters for these two teams on Thursday night. Houston ranks 11th in C-USA in scoring defense (65.7), 12th in three-point field goal defense (32.9), but fourth in field goal defense (37.4). Memphis ranks 12th in scoring defense (66.4), 11th in three-point field goal defense (31.7) and 10th in field goal percentage defense (39.2). Defensive numbers tend to slide down as the conference schedule gets underway anyway as opponents are better scouted and coaches can reach back on their previous history with each other to coach opposing team's trends, but both teams Thursday will be looking to improve their defensive numbers when the first C-USA only statistics are posted on Thursday night.

Streaking...
Memphis has won six straight games after suffering a season-long four-game losing streak after losing starting point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadirto a broken hand in the win at UT Arlington. The Tigers' six-game winning streak is the second-longest in C-USA. Preseason favorite UTEP has the league's longest winning streak, at seven, and leads C-USA with a 12-1 mark. Both teams will be looking to extend their streaks on the road this weekend. UTEP opens league play at Tulsa, Wednesday night.

Don't Foul!
Memphis is a team that early in the season, was getting whistled for a lot of fouls that drive a coach crazy. When the Tigers give their opponents more than 20 attempts from the free-throw line, they are just 4-4 on the season. When Memphis gives their opponents fewer than 19 attempts from the stripe, they are 5-1.

With the Win Over Wright State
- Memphis has won six straight games, the longest winning streak for team since the Tigers won seven straight in non-conference play last season. That streak was snapped by St. John's in the championship game of the St. John's tournament.

- Memphis gave up more than 60 points to the opponents, but still prevailed with the win. Memphis is 5-4 when the opponents score more than 60 points, but is 4-1 when holding opponents to 59 points and under.

- The large lead meant the Tiger bench got some playing time on Saturday. That gave three Tigers a chance to post a career-high in points. Jamila Ajanaku finished with five points, tying her career-best, freshman Courtney Powell scored her first collegiate field goal and Krishunda Harveyfinished with a season-high seven points, including a buzzer-beating lay up before the halftime horn sounded against Wright State.

- Nicole Dickson, who had 25 first half points, finished with 34 points, giving her a fourth game with 30 or more points and a seventh one with 20 or more points on the 14-game season.

- Ariel Hearnscored 16 points in the win, her 11th double-digit scoring outing of the season. In one of the three games that she didn't score double-digit points, she handed out 12 assists instead (Grambling State). Hearn has shot over 62.5 percent from the floor in three of the last four games and has hit four three-point field goals in the last two games after hitting just four threes in the first 12 games of the season.

- Jaymie Jackson snapped a cold streak from the field. Heading into the Wright State game, she was 0-for-17 from the floor. She bounced back in a big way, going 3-for-6 against Wright State and knocking down her 18th consecutive free-throw. She is now just six away from tying the school record for consecutive free-throws made (24), held by Devin Necaise and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir. Abdul-Qaadir had her consecutive free-throw streak snapped last season in the win over Seton Hall.

- Nicole Dicksontied her single season career high with her 15th block of the year. That ties her previous high of 15 from last season and gives her 48 blocks for her career. She would need six more to break into the career top 10 at Memphis in that category.

-Memphis improved to 9-5 in the non-conference slate. That gives Melissa McFerrinher fifth straight season at Memphis with a winning non-conference record. McFerrin's Memphis teams have never finished .500 or lower for the non-conference slate. In her first season (2008-09), the Tigers were 7-6, the program's first winning record in non-league play since 2004.

Memphis' Non-Conference Record Under McFerrin
2008-09 7-6
2009-10 7-6
2010-11 11-3
2011-12 10-3
2012-13 9-5

Bilqis is Back
Junior point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir missed seven games with a broken shooting hand suffered in the second half of the win at UT Arlington. She returned to the game against Missouri, coming off the bench and playing 25 minutes. She returned to the starting lineup against Tennessee Tech, finishing with 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting. She was 1-for-1 from three-point range and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line, so apparently her shooting hand isn't bothering her. She played 34 minutes in the win over Tennessee Tech, and gives the Tigers an additional ball-handler and scorer to help alleviate the pressure on Ariel Hearn and Nicole Dickson.

Hearn Joins Double-Double Club
Freshman guard Ariel Hearn posted career highs in points and rebounds in the win over Tennessee Tech on Monday and also posted her first collegiate double-double after just missing a double-double with 12 assists and seven points in the season-opening win over Grambling State.

The double-double from Hearn is the third on the season for the Tigers and is a bit of a rarity in that it's a Tiger guard posting it. Last year, Memphis posted 29 double-doubles, but just one of those came from the guard spot, when Brittany Carterfinished the loss at Missouri with 14 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 22nd, 2011.

Hearn is the third different player this year to post a double-double, joining Nicole Dickson (2) and Pa'Sonna Hope(1).

Tiger Double-Doubles
Nicole Dickson at UT Arlington (30 points, 13 rebounds)
11/21/12 Pa'Sonna Hope at East Tennessee (13 points, 12 rebounds)
11/30/12 Nicole Dickson vs. UALR (10 points, 10 rebounds)
12/7/12 Ariel Hearn vs. Tennessee Tech (23 points, 10 rebounds), 12/31/12

Opponent Check-Up

Grambling State (2-13, 1-3 SWAC): Lost to Alcorn State, 71-58; plays at Prairie View A&M, Saturday.

Middle Tennessee (9-5, 4-1 Sun Belt): Rick Insell became Middle Tennessee's all-time wins leader with a 60-39 win at South Alabama; hosts SBC East leading Florida Atlantic, Wednesday.

Illinois State (10-4, 2-0 Missouri Valley): Won fourth straight, with an 81-65 win over Bradley; plays at Creighton, Friday. 

Texas-Arlington (3-10, 1-2 WAC): Lost at Louisiana Tech, 65-58; hosts UT San Antonio, Thursday.

Prairie View A&M (4-9, 1-2 SWAC): Lost to Texas Southern,64-57;  hosts Grambling State, Saturday.

East Tennessee State (3-7, 1-2 A-Sun): Lost to league newcomer Northern Kentucky, 68-55; hosts Florida Gulf Coast, Saturday.

UALR (11-3, 4-2 Sun Belt): Joe Foley got his 100th Sun Belt Conference win with a 71-50 over Troy; hosts North Texas, Wednesday.

Illinois (8-6, 1-1 Big 10): Upset No. 24 Ohio State on the road, 79-73; plays at Northwestern, Thursday.

Alabama A&M (5-9, 4-0 SWAC): Remain perfect in SWAC play with a 73-62 win over UA-Pine Bluff; hosts Alabama State, Saturday.

Saint Louis (6-8): Downed Winthrop, 62-53; wraps up non-conference play at Southeast Missouri, Wednesday.

Seton Hall (6-8, 1-0 BIG EAST): Won their BIG EAST opener after coach Anne Donovan announced she would leave SHU and join the WNBA after the season, defeating Pitt, 69-56; plays at Cincinnati, Wednesday.

Missouri (12-4, 1-1 SEC): Won its SEC home opener, 82-76, over Auburn; plays at Tennessee, Thursday.

Tennessee Tech (9-7, 3-0 Ohio Valley): Remains perfect in Ohio Valley play following an 80-77 win over Tennessee State; plays at SIU Edwardsville, Saturday.

Wright State (6-7, 0-0 Horizon League): Lost to Memphis, 109-68; opens Horizon League play at Milwaukee, Thursday.

Houston (6-7, 0-0 C-USA): Outscored Delaware 16-3 in overtime in a 71-58 win; hosts Memphis Thursday.

Southern Miss (8-5, 0-0 C-USA): Downed UNO, 69-59; opens league play versus Marshall, Thursday.

East Carolina (10-3, 0-0 C-USA): Closed out non-conference play with a 71-53 win over George Mason; opens C-USA plays against Rice, Thursday..

Tulane (11-2, 0-0 C-USA): Set school steals record with 24 in a 81-41 win over Loyola; hosts SMU, Thursday.

UAB (9-4, 0-0 C-USA): Lost to visiting Chattanooga, 66-57; opens league play at UCF, Thursday.

UCF (6-8, 0-0 C-USA): Won at Bowling Green, 59-56; hosts UAB, Thursday.

Rice (8-5, 0-0 C-USA): Had its six-game winning streak snapped at No. 24 Texas A&M in a 80-57 loss; plays at East Carolina, Thursday.

Marshall (6-7, 0-0 C-USA): Lost to Navy, 67-51; their first back-to-back losses of the season; plays at Southern Miss, Thursday.

SMU (9-4, 0-0 C-USA): Defeated Harvard, 88-73; plays at Tulane, Thursday.

UTEP (12-1, 0-0 C-USA): Sprinted past UT Pan American, 83-56; opens league plays at Tulsa, Wednesday.

Tulsa (5-8): Defeated Langston, 97-35; hosts UTEP, Thursday.


 

 

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