Women's Basketball to Face Southern Miss in C-USA Championship First Round Wednesday

March 12, 2013

Memphis (17-13, 8-8 C-USA) vs Southern Miss (14-15, 6-10 C-USA)

 Tulsa Convention Center (Tulsa, Okla.)

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Tigers in the Conference USA Championships

Memphis is the No. 7 seed in the Conference USA Championships set to begin Wednesday in Tulsa. Memphis will face No. 10 seeded Southern Miss, Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. in the fourth game of the day at the Tulsa Convention Center.

This is just the second time the Tigers have been the No. 7 seed in the tournament. The last time, Memphis went 0-1 in the tournament in 2007-08, falling 85-63 to Tulsa in the tournament at UCF.

All time, Memphis is 14-15 in the Conference USA championships. The Tigers have advanced to the semifinals of the Conference USA championships in each of the past two seasons, including 2011, when the No. 6 seeded Tigers opened the tournament with a first round win over Southern Miss, 71-63, then upended No. 3 seeded Rice, 63-52, in the quarterfinals to advance to their first C-USA semifinals in six years.

The two teams have met just twice before in the league championships. The first was an 88-83 Tiger victory in the semifinals of the first C-USA Championships, hosted by UAB, in 1996. The Tigers went on to win that championship in overtime against DePaul, 93-87. The second meeting between the two teams in the C-USA tournament came 15 years later in the 2011 tournament at UTEP. Memphis won that first-round match-up with Southern Miss, 71-63, and went on to advance to the semifinals.

Dickson Earns First Team Honors
Senior Nicole Dickson was voted to the Conference USA First Team on Sunday. It is her second all-conference honor and her first first-team award. Dickson led Conference USA in scoring with 18.9 ppg and ranked 12th in rebounding with 7.1 rebounds per game.

She is capping her career in the top 10 at Memphis in scoring (1,630 points), seventh in rebounding (775 rebounds), sixth in blocked shots (61) and fourth in three-point field goals made (172).
This is Dickson's third career honor from the league office. She was also named to the C-USA All-Freshman team in 2010.

Hearn Voted to All-Freshman Team
Freshman guard Ariel Hearn was voted to the C-USA All-Freshman Team on Sunday. Hearn was the Tigers' second-leading scorer with 13.5 ppg and led Memphis with 103 assists in the regular season. She is the first Memphis freshman since 1982-83 to have 100 or more assists in a season and is the fourth straight Tiger guard to have 100 assists in a season (LaToya Bullard, Alex Winchell, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir were the first three). She was named the C-USA Freshman of the Week three times and was named the CollegeSportsMadness.com Player of the Week for C-USA once.

Team Honors Presented Sunday
The University of Memphis women's basketball team had its team banquet on Sunday and presented a handful of team awards. Freshman guard Ariel Hearn received the Most Improved Player Award, freshman guard Jaymie Jackson received Best Defensive Award, freshman forward Asianna Fuqua-Bey received both the Best Rebounder and Coaches' Award and senior forward Nicole Dickson received the Best Offensive Award. Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir received the Les Phillips Award, a perpetual award in honor of former Tiger fan Les Phillips and presented each year to the Tiger who exempli es everything great about being a Tiger.

Abdul-Qaadir Named to C-USA All-Academic Team
Junior guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir was named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team, becoming the first Tiger since Devin Necaise in 2007 to earn the academic honor. Abdul-Qaadir sports a 3.71 GPA in Exercise and Sport Science and will receive her undergraduate degree in August. She plans on attending physical therapy school when she is done with her playing career, a good choice for a Tiger who missed her entire freshman season to a knee injury and who missed seven games this season with a broken right (shooting) hand. She bounced back from that injury to rank third on the team in scoring with 10.5 ppg and has played in 23 of Memphis' 30 games, with 21 starts. The team co-captain with Nicole Dickson, Abdul-Qaadir is a three-time C-USA Academic Honor Roll honoree and has been named to the Dean's List at Memphis three times.

Tigers Finish Regular Season Tied for Fifth
The Tigers finished the regular season in a three-way tie for fifth place with UTEP and host Tulsa. Since UTEP swept the regular season series with Tulsa, but lost to Memphis, they were 2-1 in the tie break (.667). Tulsa beat Memphis, but lost the two games to UTEP, so UTEP is the No. 5 seed, Tulsa is the 6 on the strength of the head-to-head against Memphis and the Tigers are the No. 7 seed.

Conference USA Regular Season Standings
Under Melissa McFerrin
2012-13 8-8 (tied for fifth)
2011-12 13-3 (second )
2010-11 8-8 (sixth)
2009-10 10-6 (tied for second)
2008-09 5-11 (tied for ninth)

Playing for a Postseason Bid
Everyone knows about the NCAA Automatic Bid at stake for the C-USA Championships, but there are other post-season options to keep in mind. With an RPI of 114 heading into the tournament, Memphis would still have a shot at the 64-team WNIT field is the Tigers aren't going dancing. Conference USA has four teams in the top 100 in RPI (SMU, East Carolina, Tulane and UTEP). Rice and Memphis are right behind at No. 111 and 114, and UAB is also right there at 119.

Memphis started its season in the Preseason WNIT, picking up wins over Grambling State and Illinois State and losing a tight game at Sun Belt Champion Middle Tennessee. The Tigers have played in the last two postseason WNIT fields, losing in 2010-11 to Alabama in the first round, and picking up a win over cross-state foe Chattanooga in the first round last year before falling at Missouri State in the second round.



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