Lady Tiger Basketball Readies for No. 19 Mississippi State
Dec. 3, 2002
MEMPHIS, Ten. - The University of Memphis women's basketball team (4-0) will have to upend a nationally-ranked team if they are to tie their best-ever start under Head Coach Joye-Lee McNelis, Wednesday night. The Lady Tigers will host No. 19 Mississippi State (4-1) in a non-conference contest that tips at 7 p.m.
The Lady Tigers, who are Conference USA's lone undefeated team, are also looking to help McNelis to her 200th career coaching victory. McNelis could be looking to make history against another SEC foe after getting her 100th career win against Mississippi on Feb. 4, 1997.
A pair of Lady Tigers are averaging double-digits, led by C-USA Player of the Week, Shannon Hamp. Hamp, currently fifth in the league in scoring, leads the team with 17.8 points per game and just downed her 1,000th career point at Louisiana-Lafayette in a 63-50 road win last Monday. The Monroe, La. native followed that 22-point effort with a 23-point night and a 9-of-10 shooting performance from the floor in a 92-71 win over Tennessee State in the first round of the Lady Tiger Thanksgiving Tournament. Hamp's outings continued to get better with a season-best 24 points in a come-from-behind win over Big 10 foe Michigan State, 59-56, in the championship game, Saturday. Hamp earned her second consecutive tournament MVP honor for her efforts.
Sophomore guard Raven Rogers is also averaging double-digits for Memphis, with 12.5 points per game, and leads the team with eight treys on 19 attempts. Rogers, who scored a career-high 18 points against Tennessee State, has started the last two games for Memphis, and was particularly effective in the rotation with fellow sophomore Victoria Crawford. Crawford, who led the team with four steals at ULL, had the best theft performance of the tournament, knocking away six steals and breaking away from the Tennessee State defense for 15 points. Crawford is currently sixth in the league in steals per game with 2.00.
The Lady Tigers will continue to be without senior point guard Kalara McFadyen, who broke her hand in the season-opening win over Austin Peay State. Freshman Tamika Butler has stepped up in the line-up and is currently tied for ninth in the league with 3.5 assists per game. The Marianna, Ark. graduate has 14 assists to 10 turnovers in the four games she has played, including her three starts.
The Lady Tiger defense will have its hands full with the Mississippi State line-up, which includes senior LaToya Thomas. Thomas, who averages 30.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, made Elma Roane Fieldhouse history in her last trip to Memphis by scoring 48 points in an 88-82 MSU loss. The 48 points are the most-ever scored by a player in the Fieldhouse.
If Thomas and her 30-point average are not enough to keep Lady Tiger fans on the edge of their seats, sophomore guard Tan White will do her part as she averages 21.8 points a game and is tied for the team lead with 18 assists. Add in freshman Mamie McKinney who has come off the bench in all five games and is tied for second on the team with 7.4 rebounds per night and Memphis will have its hands full on both ends of the court.
Memphis will be one of four C-USA opponents the Bulldogs faces this season, having already defeated pre-season favorite Cincinnati, 76-70, and pre-season fourth-place pick Houston, 76-57, in their last game.
But the Lady Tigers could have some home cooking on their side as the last time they beat a nationally-ranked team was Nov. 21, 2000, when the Lady Tigers beat a No. 15 ranked Mississippi State team that also featured Thomas. That game was one of the greatest shoot-outs in Fieldhouse history as Thomas scored 48 points and Lady Tiger Tiffany Adkins scored 37 points. Mississippi State has also struggled in the Fieldhouse, coming into Wednesday night's game with a 1-11 record in the on-campus facility. The last Bulldog win in the Fieldhouse was a 59-58 win in 1982-83.