Women's Basketball to Wrap up Regular Season With Two-Game Swing
Feb. 25, 2009
Note: The UCF game is being televised by three different channels. Bright House Networks will carry the game live, beginning at 7:05 p.m. (ET). Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) will carry the game on a same-day delay, beginning at 9 p.m. (ET). CBS-C will also carry the game on a same-day delay, beginning at 10 p.m. (ET). CSS is available in Memphis on Channel 6 on cable. CBS-C is available on satellite and digital cable in the Memphis area.
The University of Memphis women's basketball team (11-16, 4-10 C-USA) has just two regular season games remaining to try to improve on its No. 10 seed, and to try to stay ahead of Tulsa, in the C-USA standings. That task gets a bit more difficult following a home loss to Marshall, as the Tigers will now take on UCF, a team that was in the top two in the league before a three-game losing streak dropped the Knights to fifth heading in to the last two regular season games. Following the Thursday game at UCF, the Tigers will then face Southern Miss on Senior Day in Hattiesburg. USM is currently in a three-way tie with SMU and UTEP for the top seed in the conference, and needs wins to stay in the tiebreaker with USM and UTEP. Neither UCF nor Southern Miss has lost a conference home game this year, but the Tigers are 2-0 on the road in their last two games and are hoping to play the role of spoiler to each opponent's perfect home mark.
The Tiger underclassmen have had big weekends as of late. At Tulsa, Shekeira Copeland, Shae Seagraves and Alex Winchell all helped Memphis to a road win. Back at home against East Carolina, Memphis again got a boost from the underclassmen, as Winchell scored a career-high 17 points with a career-high five rebounds in the win over ECU. A pair of Tigers (Ashley Thornton and Shekeira Copeland) added double-doubles, with Copeland's 14 point night matching up with a career-best 14 rebounds.
But the youngsters could not match their performances against Marshall. Winchell came out and led Memphis with 11 points in the first half against Marshall, but the Herd defense held senior guard Paris Leonard to just eight points on the night, her second consecutive single digit scoring outing of the weekend, and a tough ending to her Elma Roane Fieldhouse career. The last time Leonard was held to single digits was against UCF in the regular season finale last year, and in the conference tournament against Tulsa. Leonard was Memphis' fifth-leading scorer last weekend, behind freshman Ramses Lonlack's, who had a career-high 20 points against Marshall, mark of 16.5 ppg and Winchell's 15.5 ppg. Fellow senior Ashley Thornton fared a bit better, with 12.0 ppg last weekend, while Shekeira Copeland used the big night against ECU to average 9.5 ppg. Leonard averaged 8.0 ppg last week, eight under her average, and fell from being the second-leading scorer in the league to being the fifth leading scorer.
Memphis will also look to defend better in the post against UCF than they did in the first meeting. Sophomore center Emma Cannon rang up the Tigers for 34 points and 20 rebounds in the first meeting, grabbing nine offensive rebounds and shooting 12-for-20 from the field. She has not slowed down since then, and is still averaging a double-double of 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. At guard, Chelsie Wiley adds 14.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, and is a prolific three-point shooter, connecting on 56 triples so far this season. At one of the other guard spots, Aisha Patrick quarterbacks an offense with 82 assists on the season against 68 turnovers, adding 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. She also leads UCF with 64 steals.
UCF was tied for first with Southern Miss, when the squad dropped a tough 86-83 overtime game at East Carolina. That started a three-game skid that the youngsters are hoping to snap out of now that they are back home.
Memphis will have to take care of the basketball, as UCF has 9.6 steals a game, and allows just 7.2 steals against them. UCF is +3.0 in the turnover category heading in to Thursday night.
The overall series record is knotted a 4-4. Last year, each team on on the other team's home court, with Memphis winning at UCF, 78-68, and UCF returning the favor with a 81-69 win on Memphis' senior night in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
Thornton Needs 17 More
Thornton already ranks in the Memphis career top 10 in rebounds, with 685. She needs just one more rebound to more in to a tie for 8th all-time with former WNBA player LaTonya Johnson (1994-1998), who has 686 career boards.
The team captain has 839 points (9.5/game), 685 rebounds (7.8/game) and 107 steals (1.2/game) heading in to the final week of the regular season.
Winchell Stringing Together Outings
In the last three games, Winchell has made sure opposing defenses account for her, hitting double-digit points in three straight games for the first time in her collegiate career. Winchell had a career-high 17 points in the win over East Carolina, shooting 5-for-12 from the field and 2-for-5 from three-point range. Winchell then came on and tried to get her seniors a home send-off victory, scoring 11 of her 14 points in the first half to try to get the Tiger offense on track in the 70-61 loss to Marshall. Winchell knocked down four triples in that game, moving to 40 for the season and 70 for her career.
Through 57 career games, Winchell already ranks as one of Memphis' better three-point shooters, ranking ninth all-time at Memphis, just one behind Lauren Jackson's (1998-2002) mark and two behind former Tiger Raven Rogers' (2001-2005) marks.
Lonlack Has First Career 20-Point Game
Leonard Stimied in Final Home Weekend
On the second time through league play, Leonard is finding defenses a little better prepared. In th first 20 games of the year, Leonard shot below 30 percent just two times. She has shot 30 percent or better in just two of the last seven games (Tulane, SMU).
Paris scored just eight points in each of last weekend's games, and committed 11 turnovers with just one steal in her final two home games. That was the first time since the final two games of last season that Leonard has scored single digits in consecutive games.
A Freshman Campaign for All-Defensive Team?
In fact, Lonlack's 896 minutes this season is already the second-highest total of any Tiger freshman and is just 20 minutes off a new Tiger record for any freshman in the program's 36-year history. The current mark of 916 minutes was set by Ruth Ann Forsythe in 1983-84.
The Tigers' primary defender on the other team's ball-handler, Lonlack has drawn the defensive assignments on UAB's Britney Jones, ECU's Jasmine Young, UTEP's Jareica Hughes and the other point guards in the league.
Memphis' one loss when holding the opposition under 65 points was a 59-44 loss to Tulane.
Paris at the Point
Leonard responded with 11 assists in four games, including 10 assists over the three games that Goldsmith has missed. Her assist to turnover ratio slid a bit after the Marshall game though, when she had one assist against seven turnovers.
Sophomores Continue Having Career Nights
Ellis Battling Foul Issues
History repeated itself again on Sunday, when Ellis picked up two first half fouls, finishing with just two points and one rebound in 19 minutes. Ellis had played 20 or more minutes in six straight games heading in to the Tulsa game, but has not made it to the 20-point mark in any of the past three games. Going against two of the conference's best rebounding teams to finish the regular season, the Tigers will need one of their best rebounders on the floor, not on the pine.
Winchell Moves Up on Career Threes List
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