Feb. 1, 2012
Memphis Notes vs. USM2
The University of Memphis women's basketball team (16-4, 6-1 C-USA) will host a dangerous Southern Miss (6-15, 0-8 C-USA) squad in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, Thursday night. USM has been close to snapping an eight-game losing streak, narrowly losing to league-leading UTEP, 70-63, last week, then leading at UAB at halftime in a tough 65-59 road loss in Birmingham on Sunday. UAB came back from 19 points down in that game to keep step just half a game behind Memphis in the league standings.
USM shot 72.5 percent in the opening half at UAB, and guard Nitesha Pierce led the Golden Eagles with 20-points, while super sophomore point guard Jamierra Faulkner finished with 14 points and eight assists. Faulkner continues to lead the league with 7.6 assists per game. The emergence of Pierce as a scorer could give USM a third double-digit scorer, joining junior Tanecka Carey (15.7) and Faulkner (15.5). Pierce has upped her scoring average to 8.5 ppg heading in to Thursday night.
This is the 53rd meeting between Memphis and Southern Miss. The Tigers lead the overall series, 29-23, including a 13-10 mark in games played in Memphis.
Memphis has won five straight games coming in to the C-USA clash, the longest conference winning streak under Melissa McFerrin.
Lee Garners Pair of Honors
Senior forward Jasmine Lee was named the Conference USA Player of the Week and the CollegeSportsMadness.com High Major women's player of the week after averaging 20.5 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Lee posted back-to-back 20-point games last week in wins over Marshall and East Carolina and has posted three straight double-doubles heading in to Thursday night's contest against Southern Miss.
In the first meeting at USM, Lee finished with 13 points and just six rebounds, while shooting 62.5 percent from the floor in just 21 minutes of play.
In league-only games, Lee leads the league in scoring (17.6 ppg) and field goal percentage (61.0) and ranks second in rebounding (10.6), 14th in steals (1.9) , first in offensive rebounds (4.9) and seventh in defensive rebounds (5.7).
Abdul-Qaadir Coming off Season-Best Shooting Performance
In front of a big crowd of supporters at East Carolina, sophomore guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir turned in a season-best 75.0 percent shooting clip from the floor, finishing with 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting in the win. She also had two assists against no turnovers, but did battle first half foul trouble, playing just seven minutes in the opening half. She also finished with three steals, her 14 multi-steal game of the season.
Carter Getting Defensive
Prior to this season, senior guard Brittany Carter was known throughout the league for her offense. But the senior is currently tied for the team lead with sophomore Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir with 47 steals on the season. The tandem has taken advantage of teams working ball-handlers away from two-time All-Defensive team honoree Ramses Lonlack, as Memphis is forcing 11.9 steals a game, while Tiger opponents are grabbing just seven steals a night. Teams might be working away from Lonlack, but she is still active in the passing lanes, ranking third on the team with 35 steals on the season and now is just seven steals shy of breaking in to the top five in career steals at Memphis with 274 career picks.
Memphis currently ranks 29th in the country in scoring offense in the most recent NCAA statistics with 72.8 ppg. That number keeps dropping in league play as 10 of the league's 12 teams are holding opponents to under 60 ppg scoring. Facing such stiff defenses, Memphis still has hit the 70 point mark three times in its first seven C-USA contests. The Tigers rank 21st in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.01), 31st in scoring margin (+13.4) and 37th in field goal percentage (42.8).
Five in a Row
The Tigers have won five straight Conference USA contests for the first time under Melissa McFerrin and for the first time since the Tiger squad coached by Joye Lee-McNelis won six in a row during the 2003-04 season. That 2003-04 team had their six-game winning streak snapped in a loss at Marquette, and finished the season 21-10 overall and 9-5 in C-USA and advanced to the second round of the WNIT.
Lonlack Lining Them Up
Senior guard Ramses Lonlack has now scored double-digit points in five straight games after going the previous five games through a bit of a scoring slump. Lonlack finished with 11 points in the win at East Carolina, shooting 4-for-6 from the field, but struggling at the free-throw line, where she was an uncharacteristic 3-for-10. That third made free throw did push her in to the career top 10 at Memphis in free throws made with 268. That passed Yolanda Reed's mark of 267 from 1997-2000.
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 15.7 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.
The Tigers' RPI keeps moving on up, improving from 93 to 82 with the two wins last week. The Tigers must now focus on stretching their current 11-game home winning streak and avoid becoming a good RPI win for Southern Miss.
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 three games, giving her 10 double-doubles on the season. The last time a Memphis player posted 10 or more double-doubles in a season was Tamika Whitmore, who posted 13 double-doubles during her senior season in 1998-99.
Lee has scored 20 or more points in four of Memphis' first seven 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 15.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game heading in to Thursday's rematch with Southern Miss.
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 696-507.
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.
Saint Louis (7-14 overall, 1-5 Atlantic 10): Lost 63-45 to Richmond; plays at Xavier, Wednesday.
Belmont (8-14, 7-4 A-Sun): Held off Jacksonville, 68-62; plays at Lipscomb, Saturday.
Illinois (6-15, 0-8 Big 10): Remains winless in the Big 10 following a 67-47 loss to Nebraska; hosts Minnesota, Thursday.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-20, 0-9 SWAC): Still winless in 2011-12; hosts Alabama A&M, Saturday.
Southeast Louisiana (6-13, 1-5 Southland): Picked up their first Southland Conference victory, 73-66, over Northwestern State; plays at Lamar, Wednesday.
UT Arlington (3-15, 1-5 Southland): Lost to Texas State, 90-73; opens new home arena with a game against UT-San Antonio, Saturday.
Tennessee State (8-14, 4-6 Ohio Valley): Lost in another high-scoring affair with UT Martin, 105-90; hosts Eastern Kentucky, Wednesday.
UT Martin (13-8, 7-1 Ohio Valley): Got a 42-point effort from Heather Butler in a 105-90 win over Tennessee State; plays at Austin Peay, Wednesday.
UALR (11-11, 6-3 Sun Belt): Had their four game winning streak snapped with a 60-50 loss to Denver; hosts UL Monroe, Saturday.
Louisiana Tech (10-10, 3-2 WAC): Downed New Mexico State, 69-42;hosts Nevada, Thursday.
St. John's (14-8, 6-3 BIG EAST): Downed Pitt, 66-51; plays at Seton Hall, Saturday.
Missouri (10-9, 0-8 Big 12): Lost to Oklahoma, 62-59; hosts No. 1 Baylor, Wednesday.
Seton Hall (7-16, 0-9 BIG EAST): Lost at Villanova, 62-53; hosts St. John's Wednesday.