March 19, 2010
Game Notes in PDF Format
The University of Memphis women's basketball team (18-13) will host Wichita State (18-14) in a Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) Quarterfinal, Sunday, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $7.00 for chair back seats, $5.00 for bleacher seats, $3.00 for youth/students and for free admission for University of Memphis students showing their Memphis ID.
Memphis is coming in to the game after a 72-67 win over UMKC in the opening round game. Wichita State comes in following a 67-61 win over Akron in its opening game.
The Tigers are hoping that home court advantage helps the team heading in to its 32nd contest of the season. Memphis has won nine straight games at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse to improve to 10-2 on the season in their on-campus venue, while Wichita State is just 2-9 in true road games.
Both teams are in just their second seasons with their respective coaches and both are very different teams than the ones that faced off in the Piggly Wiggly Classic during Thanksgiving of the 2008-09 season. Both teams return just three players from that last meeting. Memphis' three returnees all started last season, while Wichita State's Marisah Henderson is the lone WSU returnee for coach Jody Adams.
Memphis snapped its longest losing streak of the season in the win over UMKC, a three game-skid that started in an overtime loss to East Carolina at FedExForum on senior day.
But it's been the Tiger bench that can determine the outcome of a came. The bench was outscored in all three Memphis losses, and while they were outscored again on Thursday night, 36-15, thanks to a 20-point game from freshman Kim Nezianya, the bench backstopped Memphis to a big rebounding edge, 41-29, including 19 offensive boards. Junior Starkitsha Luellen-Higgins led all players with 12 rebounds, while LaToya Bullard added four rebounds, three assists, three steals and seven points in 27 minutes of play off the bench.
Freshman Nicole Dickson made her seventh career start Thursday night. It should be no surprise that a player who scored 20 points in her first collegiate game also made a big splash in her first collegiate post-season game, finishing with her first collegiate double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Luellen-Higgins and Dickson's double-digit rebounds marked the first time since a February game in 2009 against East Carolina that two Tigers have had double-digit points (Ashley Thornton, Shekeira Copeland).
The Series History
This is just the second meeting between Wichita State and Memphis. The first meeting was actually last season in the Piggly Wiggly Classic and the Tigers won that game 61-54. But these are two very different teams just one season later. Wichita State returns just three players who played in the meeting last year, including leading scorer Haleigh Lankster (11.3 ppg), who scored two points off the bench in nine minutes of play last year. Lankster now ranks second on the team in minutes played per game (27.3) and her 44 triples leads the Shockers. Guard Marisah Henderson is also back, leading Wichita State with 174 assists so far this year. Henderson is the one player back for Wichita State who started last year, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting and handing out five assists against six turnovers.
For the Tigers, the front line of Savannah Ellis and Ashley Thornton both had double-digit rebounds in the win for Memphis, while Alex Winchell led the Tigers with 16 points. But while Memphis returns three of the five starters from last season, the remainder of the surrounding cast is very different, as those three starters are the only Tigers back who played against the Shockers last year.
WSU went heavily to the junior college route to build this season's 18-14 squad. Six of the 11 players on the roster have played junior college ball, but it is one of the team's four freshmen, guard Jessica Diamond, who ranks second on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg) and assists (101). Fellow freshman Jazimen Gordon will give Memphis someone to try to slow down up front. Gordon is shooting 53.3 percent from the floor, averaging 6.6 points and a team-best 5.2 rebounds per game. She also leads WSU with 19 blocks on the season.
First Post Season Appearance for Memphis Since 2003-04
The Tigers are making their first post-season appearance since the 2003-04 season, when Memphis advanced to the second round of the WNIT. Memphis opened that tournament with a win at home against Tulsa, a team that would join Conference USA a year later, then fell on the road at Western Kentucky. In the program's 35-year history, Memphis has appeared in 12 post-season tournaments, appearing in the NCAA tournament seven times, the WNIT tournament four times and a 1982-83 appearance in the National Women's Invitational. The deepest any Tiger squad has gone in any post season tournament was a WNIT Final Four appearance in 1998-99.
With the win over UMKC Thursday night, Memphis improves to 10-12 all-time in post season games.
Have to Make Home Court Count
Memphis has won nine straight games in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse to improve to 10-2 in the on-campus gym. Wichita State is looking to improve its record on the road. The Shockers are currently 2-9 in true road games, with their last road victory coming in an overtime 92-85 victory at Missouri State on Jan. 23rd.
Dickson Grabs Double-Double in First Collegiate Post Season Game
Freshman Nicole Dickson scored 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting and added 10 rebounds in the win over UMKC for her first collegiate double-double in her first collegiate post-season game.
Luellen-Higgins Steps Up in Mumphrey's Absence
Junior post Starkitsha Luellen-Higgins stepped up in the absence of fellow junior Taylor Mumphrey Thursday night, grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds and tying a career high with five points in the win over UMKC. The Memphis native also added two steals in a career-high 24 minutes of play.
Winchell Moves to Career Top Five in Triples
Alex Winchell knocked down 3-of-8 attempts from three-point range in the win over UMKC, and moved to in to the career top five at Memphis, where she now sits fifth with 139 made threes. Winchell's 62 triples so far this year is just two shy of a new single season record, set by two different Tigers, LaTonya Johnson (1995-96) and Devin Necaise (2006-07).
Winchell now has 665 career points in 91 career games at Memphis, with 50 career starts. Her 33.7 percent clip from three this year is the best single season percentage of her career from beyond the arc, improving her to 32.6 from three for her Tiger career.
Carter Moves to Single Season Top 10 in Scoring
Sophomore Brittany Carter is all of 31 games in to her Memphis career and her 13th 20-point+ outing of the season (22 against UMKC) pushed her to 586 for the season, and for her young Tiger career. She is the 13th Tiger to score 500 or more points in a career, but is the first Tiger since Victoria Crawford (2003-04) to score 500 or more points in a single season. Memphis has had a player score 500 or more points in a season just 25 times.
Carter needs 14 more points to hit 600 points for her career. If she can get to that mark, the Covington, Georgia native will be just the fourth player in school history to score 600 or more points in a single season (Tamika Whitmore twice, Betty Booker four times, LaTonya Johnson, twice).
A Few More Things in Common
The Tigers and the Shockers have had two common opponents this season. Wichita State and UMKC both played in the 2009 Sunsplash Classic, the same Bahamas tournament Memphis played in last season which is also coordinated by the same group coordinating the WBI. Wichita State was edged by fellow C-USA member SMU, 67-60, and came back to edge the Kangaroos, 53-52 the next day.
Carter Grabs All-Conference Nod
Sophomore guard Brittany Carter earned an honor that Memphis has not had in a while. The 5-9 sophomore was voted to the Conference USA First Team in a vote of the league coaches, SIDs and media representatives, Saturday. Carter becomes just the fourth Tiger in school history to earn a first team nod from C-USA and is the first to earn the honor since Tiffany Adkins was a first teamer in 2001. Carter led the conference in scoring with 18.4 ppg and added 5.9 rebounds a game.
Dickson Named to All-Freshman Team
Freshman forward Nicole Dickson has been a key component to the year that Memphis has put together, tied for second on the team with 9.1 ppg and adding 20 three-point field goals in her first collegiate season. The offensive prowess of the freshman helped her earn a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman team that was announced Sunday. She is the first Tiger freshman since 2001 to be voted to the conference's top five freshman team (Princess Swilley was the last in 2001) and is just the fourth Tiger in school history to be named to the C-USA All-Freshman squad (Tamika Whitmore, 1996; Shannon Hamp, 2000; Princess Swilley, 2001).
Lonlack Named to All-Defensive Team
One of the things that irked Melissa McFerrin at the end of last season was finding that then-freshman Ramses Lonlack had not earned a spot on the league's All-Defensive team. She will have no such worry this year, as Lonlack, who leads the league with 3.4 steals per game, was voted to the C-USA All-Defensive Team. This is just the fourth season C-USA has voted for an all-defensive team, and Lonlack becomes Memphis' first all-defensive team honoree. Lonlack, in just her second season at Memphis, already has 153 steals over 61 career games, and has been a Tiger starter in 57 of those 61 games.
Lonlack Passes 500 Point Mark
Sophomore Ramses Lonlack is the team's leading defender on the perimeter, but she is also a force to be reckoned with offensively, thanks to a number of her 153 career steals going for layups on the other end. Against East Carolina, Lonlack scored nine points, snapping a three-game double-digit scoring streak that she had going,but those nine points were enough to push Lonlack past the 500 point mark in her second season as a Tiger.
Protect Your Pocket
Memphis relies on ball pressure to get out in transition, and the Tiger guards have developed a nose for tipping the ball loose if you take your eye off them. Ramses Lonlack ranks 24th in the country with 2.8 steals a game, while LaToya Bullard is 127th with 2.1 steals a night. And freshman Chatia Kelsey will also give the opposing team's ball-handler fits. Kelsey had a career-high three steals in the loss to ECU in the league tournament, improving her season total to 20 picks in an average 11.6 minutes of play.