Jan. 28, 2012
Memphis at East Carolina
Tigers vs. East Carolina
Memphis carries a four-game winning streak in to Sunday's match-up in Greenville. The four-game league streak ties the streak Melissa McFerrin's second year Tiger team put together in the 2009-2010 season, a streak that was snapped by a 76-59 loss --- at East Carolina.
Memphis has gotten off to a 5-1 start in league play, which ties as the Tigers' second-best start to C-USA play. Only the 1997-98 team had a better start in conference, going 6-0 to start the schedule. This is the fourth time Memphis has started 5-1 through the first six games of the season.
This will also be the Tigers' first opponent that they face two times this season. C-USA is divided in to East and West for scheduling. Each team plays a home-and-home series with all of the other teams in their respective division (East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB and UCF make up the East) and plays just one time against teams from the opposite division (Houston, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa and UTEP in the West). The coming week will find the Tigers facing three East division opponents, including second match-ups with both East Carolina (Sunday) and Southern Miss (Thursday).
Memphis still trails in the overall series against ECU despite a 62-59 victory two Sundays ago, 10-9. Memphis is just 2-6 in games played at East Carolina, but won there last year, 87-75, behind a career-high 21 points from Ramses Lonlack, with 17 points from Jasmine Lee and 15 apiece from Brittany Carter and Nicole Dickson.
That same quartet of players has been a big part of Memphis getting out on its current four-game winning streak as all four have scored double-digits in each of Memphis' last two games. Lee has posted back-to-back double-doubles and has scored 21 points in three of Memphis' first six league contests, including the first meeting between Memphis and ECU.
That first meeting was very tightly-contested in the second half, as ECU took advantage of a stalled Memphis offense after Brittany Carter fouled out. The Tigers kept earning trips to the free-throw line, but shot just 42.4 percent, allowing ECU to claw back to just three down late in the second half. ECU got off two threes in the waning seconds of the game before Nicole Dickson stole a ball to seal the Memphis win.
What Free Throw Woes?
Memphis has had games where the Tigers have struggled from the free-throw line, the last match-up with East Carolina was one of them, but the Tigers have shot over 71.0 percent from the line in each of the past two games. Memphis changed its offense before the season, incorporating some dribble-drive principals to earn more trips to the free-throw line. It has paid off so far, as Memphis attempts over 6.5 more free-throws per game on the season than its opponents.
Lee Doubled and Doubling Up
Jasmine Lee has routinely faced double and triple teams throughout the season. But the senior seems to be relishing the contact. She has posted double-doubles in each of the past two games, giving her nine double-doubles on the season. The Bessemer, Alabama native has scored 20 or more points in three of Memphis' first six C-USA games and has posted nine or more offensive rebounds twice since league play began (10 vs. East Carolina, nine vs. Marshall). The senior is almost averaging a double-double overall, with 15.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game heading in to Sunday's rematch at East Carolina.
McGraw Coming Up Big Off the Bench
Freshman guard Lauren McGraw is averaging just 11.4 minutes a game of action for the season, but she is making the most of her time in the lineup. In Memphis' first win in three years at UAB, McGraw drilled just her third three-point field goal of the season as Memphis built a double-digit lead in the second half. Against Marshall, the Tigers had bogged down on the perimeter against the Marshall zone defense and the freshman drove to the bucket on back-to-back trips, missing her first attempt that was rebounded by Jasmine Lee, but drawing a foul on the second and forcing Marshall to switch its defense.
Abdul-Qaadir Working the Tiger Offense
Sophomore point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir has ranked among the top 40 all season in the NCAA assist-to-turnover category. The Marshall defense was physical with the Tiger ball handlers on Thursday night, which put Abdul-Qaadir upside down in assists vs. turnovers for the third time since league play began. But the Springfield, Mass., native made the Thundering Herd pay at the free-throw line, where she completed 6-of-8 attempts, both season highs.
Welcome Back Carter
After shooting under 30 percent in the Tigers' first three Conference USA games, senior guard Brittany Carter seems to have gotten herself back on track, shooting 62.5 percent from the field in the win at Southern Miss, shooting 61.5 percent in the win at UAB against the nation's third-ranked defense, and shooting 50 percent from the field in the win over Marshall. The 22-point effort at UAB was Carter's sixth 20-plus point game of the season and the 25th of her career. After four straight games of not hitting a three-point field goal, she has now connected on a triple in each of the past three games. She hit multiple threes in the win over Marshall for the first time since a December game at St. John's.
Lonlack Back to Doubles
Senior guard Ramses Lonlack went five straight games from the St. John's tournament in to conference play scoring just single digits. The senior focused back on her defense as the second semester got rolling and her scoring numbers have also improved, she has scored double-digits in four straight games and has also shot over 71 percent at the free throw line in each of the last two games. Lonlack needs to make one more free-throw to move in to the career top 10 in free-throws made at Memphis. She already passed the 1,000 career point mark earlier this season in the loss at UTEP and already ranks in the Memphis top six in career steals. She became just the sixth player in school history earlier this season to have 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 250 steals. The senior has also been unselfish with the ball as team's have started to look to stop her runouts. She ranks third on the team with 49 assists.
Dickson Hitting Shooting Slump?
Junior forward Nicole Dickson has become a known commodity among conference foes, and her shooting percentage has struggled as she has been expending more energy in the Tigers' defensive schemes. The Greeneville, Tenn., native has shot under 30 percent in two straight games and is just 1-for-7 from three-point range over the last two games.
Carter Named Finalist for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
Senior guard Brittany Carter was named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award on Wednesday. Memphis' leading scorer with 16.2 ppg, Carter is a three-time team captain and is coming off a 16-point effort in the win over Marshall on Thursday night. The Covington, Ga., already has one degree in hand, having graduated with a degree in criminal justice last December, and is currently working on a second degree in sports administration. A member of the Tiger 3.0 Club following the fall semester, Carter spent the summer working with Morgan Keegan in Memphis and following a possible professional basketball career, has aspirations to become an FBI agent.
Memphis picked up a pair of Conference USA road wins last week, which was a big help to the Tigers' NCAA RPI, improving from #119 to #93.
Front Line of Dickson and Lee Looking for 500 Rebound Marks
Junior forward Nicole Dickson and senior Jasmine Lee passed benchmark point totals in the win over Tulane, and are both now eyeing the 500 rebound mark. Only 19 other players in Memphis history have had over 500 career rebounds, including teammate Ramses Lonlack (562).
1. Linda Street 1,452
2. Regina Street 1,277
3. Tamika Whitmore 952
4. Keeta Matthews 926
5. Kim Duppins 881
6. Ashley Thornton 713
7. LaTonya Johnson 686
8. Melissa Abraham 685
9. Savannah Ellis 670
Diane Gray 670
11. Heather Newlon 646
12. Raven Rogers 624
13. Wanda Dillard 611
14. Ramses Lonlack 577
15. Shannon Hamp 567
16. Kitty Allen 559
17. Michelle Winrow 548
18. Vera Webb 547
19. LaShanya Garner 524
Nicole Dickson 453
Jasmine Lee 452
Dickson will likely be the next Tiger (following Ramses Lonlack
) to hit the 1,000 career point mark. With 10 regular season conference games remaining and at least one conference tournament game on the schedule, Dickson would need to average 11.3 ppg to become the third Tiger on this year's roster to have over 1,000 career points.
The only time a Memphis team had three 1,000 point scorers on the same roster was the 1995-96 season (LaTonya Johnson, Keeta Matthews, Kitty Allen).
The is the 40th season that women's basketball has been a varsity sport at Memphis. It's been a bitter sweet celebration, as Elma Roane, the women's athletic director who returned women's sports to varsity status at the university, passed away in September at the age of 93. The Tigers entered the 2011-12 season just 20 wins away from the 700th win in program history. The program's current record heading in to the Marshall game is 695-507.
In school history, 18 Tigers' teams have won 20 or more games. In the last 10 years, Memphis has just three 20-win seasons, but two of them are the back-to-back seasons under McFerrin.