Dec. 10, 2008
Single game tickets are available for purchase here. General seating is $5.00 for any seat in the lower level of FedExForum. Groups of 10 or more can also purchase tickets through the same link for just $2.00/ticket.
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
The University of Memphis women's basketball team (5-3) will play its final home game of the 2008 calendar year when it hosts South Alabama (6-2), Thursday, at 7:05 p.m.
The Tigers are looking to get back in the win column after having a three-game winning streak snapped by Arkansas at FedExForum last week, 76-69. Memphis came out slow in that game, and was not able to pull within range of the Razorbacks until the final five minutes of the game. While the Tigers pulled within four, Arkansas then drew fouls and put the win away at the free-throw line late to hand Memphis is sixth loss in FedExForum in as many tries.
South Alabama has come close, but is still looking for its first true road win of the season. While the Jaguars are 1-0 on a neutral court, they are 0-2 on the road following tight losses at George Washington (64-59) and Southern (62-58).
Senior guard Jessica Starling and junior guard Shakira Nettles are each averaging 15 points per game for USA, while senior center Shaniece Brunner averages 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and leads the team with 12 blocks on the season.
The Jaguars thrive on turning turnovers in to points, forcing opponents in to 182 turnovers (22.8/game), while protecting the ball with just 15.5 turnovers of their own per night. The experienced backcourt also jump starts the offense with an average 10.4 steals a night. The guards are also not afraid to launch from beyond three-point range, shooting 214 threes already this season (26.8/game), connecting on 74 (9.3/game). The USA defense has only allowed opponents to connect on 26 threes all season (3.3/game). Inside, the Jaguars are out-rebounding their opposition, 40.9-39.5.
Memphis is led by a pair of seniors, as guard Paris Leonard leads the team with 18.1 points per game and 30 steals. In the frontcourt, forward Ashley Thornton adds close to a double-double with 11.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Freshman Ramses Lonlack has also had her scoring in and out of double-digits, and is currently averaging 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Sophomore Savannah Ellis has also been a force since stepping in to the starting line-up four games ago, and is currently averaging 7.5 rebounds per game and leading the team with 12 blocks on the season.
The Tigers are out-rebounding the opposition, 42.6-38.2 on the season, but are still trying to get the hang of a new offense, being forced in to 171 turnovers (21.4/game), while forcing 178 (22.3/game).
About South Alabama
This is the second meeting between South Alabama and Memphis. The Jaguars won the only other meeting, 88-65, in Mobile back in 1990-91.
This meeting is an important one for both teams. South Alabama is looking for its first true road win of the season, and has come close in two previous trips, but is still 0-2 in games away from The Mitchell Center. The Jaguars fell at George Washington, 64-59, and at Southern, 62-58. But the Jaguars will have some confidence in facing Memphis, as the team has already defeated two of the Tigers' Conference USA brethren, upending pre-season favorite Southern Miss, 66-64, and Memphis' travel partner, UAB, 77-64.
Memphis is looking to put the "O-fors" to bed by winning its first-ever game at FedExForum. The Tigers are 0-6 in the NBA venue following a 76-69 loss to Arkansas last Wednesday. A slow start proved to be too big an obstacle as the Tigers shot 3-for-14 in the first 15 minutes of the first half, and are looking to get off to a better start Thursday night.
Goldsmith Back in the Groove?
Junior college transfer Tehani Goldsmith had her best shooting night of the season in the last game at FedExForum, scoring 14 points on 5-for-9 (.556) shooting and knocking down her first three-point field goal in six games. She was 12-for-60 (.200) in the games leading up to the Arkansas game. The junior college All-American also connected on two three-point field goals, her first multiple three-point field goal game performance of the season.
Ellis Taking Control of the Boards
Senior forward Ashley Thornton had been the team's leading rebounder in most games in each of the past two and a half seasons, but in the last three games, sophomore center Savannah Ellis has emerged as a force under the glass, averaging 12 rebounds per game in the last three contests. She now has four double-digit rebounding outings this season, and has had double-digit boards in three consecutive games, making her the first Tiger since Thornton in the first three games of the season to have double-digit boards in back-to-back-to-back games.
Leonard Logging Points
Throughout her Memphis career, there has been no doubt senior guard Paris Leonard has the ability to put up points, but she has never done so like she has in the past five games. For the first time in her Tiger career, Leonard has scored 20 or more points in four of the last five outings. After averaging 11.6 ppg last year, Leonard is now averaging 18.1 points on the season and is averaging 21.6 points over the last five games, including a 27-point effort against Arkansas. She converted 13-of-15 free throws against Arkansas, shooting 86.7 percent from the line, a solid effort from the line for the career 60.5 percent free-throw shooter.
The 27 points was just two shy of tying her career high of 29 points, set against Loyola-Chicago at the Florida Gulf Tournament last season. Leonard will have to keep working to avoid what happened after that game against Loyola last season though, as she followed up her career scoring high with her second scoreless night of the season against FGCU in the championship game.
Wins Powering RPI Improvement
Last year, Memphis was ranked No. 272 in one of the various RPIs (RealTimerpi.com). That same service now has the Tigers at No. 94 in the country, and with the second-highest RPI in Conference USA behind only Houston (34).
Memphis ranks atop Conference USA in steals with 10.38/game, with a pair of Tigers ranked No. 1 and 2 in the league in steals. Senior Paris Leonard, who currently ranks second in the league in scoring, leads C-USA with 3.75 steals per game. Freshman Ramses Lonlack is right behind Leonard with 2.75 steals per game.
Leonard's league-best ranking in steals is also among the national leaders as she currently ranks 10th in the NCAA in steals per game in the latest national rankings (12/7/08).
Leonard Named C-USA Player of the Week
Paris Leonard was named the Conference USA Player of the Week on Dec. 1st following the Tigers' 3-0 week. Leonard, the Thanksgiving tournament MVP, averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game. She stole a ball and drove the length of the court for a layup, not only pushing Memphis in front for good at 41-39, but also scoring her 1,000th career point.
Leonard is the first Tiger since Princess Swilley on Jan. 27, 2003, to earn C-USA Player of the Week honors. Her only other C-USA Award came in her freshman season when she was voted the league's sixth player of the year.
Lonlack Named C-USA Rookie of the Week
Freshman guard Ramses Lonlack has been a member of the team's starting line-up since the beginning of the season. After averaging 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game last week, Lonlack was named the C-USA Rookie of the Week by the league office on Dec. 1st.
Lonlack had a career-high 18 points in the win over Ohio, and was 3-for-4 from the free-throw line down the stretch to not only break a 69-69 tie, but to score all of Memphis' final three points to secure the 72-69 victory.
Leonard Passes 1,000 Point Mark
With her 21-point effort against Stephen F. Austin in the Thanksgiving Classic championship game, Paris Leonard became the 19th Tiger to score 1,000 career points. She currently ranks 18th in all-time scoring at Memphis with 1,002 points and was named the tournament MVP on Saturday night. The 21-point effort was also Leonard's 50th career double-digit scoring effort.
About Our Opponents:
Here is a look at how our past and upcoming opponents have fared as of late:
Northern Arizona (2-7): Fell to No. 25 Arizona State in the ASU tournament
championship game, 91-65; plays at Southern Utah, Saturday.
Belmont (6-2, 2-0 A-Sun): Won both A-Sun games, then edged Tennessee State,
78-72; will break for exams and return Wednesday by hosting UT Martin.
Louisiana Tech (4-4): Pulled back to .500 with second straight win, this one over Grambling State, 75-46; hosts Sam Houston State, Saturday.
Ole Miss (7-1): Suffered their first loss of the year to No. 9 Texas, 74-50; plays at NC State, Sunday.
Ohio (2-5): Lost at Clemson, 60-57; plays at Marshall, Saturday.
Wichita State (5-2): Won second straight game, 63-46 over Appalachian State; hosts UA Pine Bluff, Saturday.
Stephen F. Austin (2-4): Lost third straight, falling to Grambling State, 65-64, on the road; hosts New Orleans, Saturday.
Arkansas (8-2): Bounced back from a loss at Kansas State with an 85-73 win over North Dakota; breaks for exams and then hosts Dartmouth, Dec. 18th.
South Alabama (6-2): Fell at Southern, 62-58; plays at Memphis Thursday.
Mississippi State (6-0): Remained perfect with a 97-25 win over Nicholls State; hosts Memphis, Sunday.
UT Arlington (3-4): Broke two-game skid with a 77-72 win at Rice; wraps up four-game road swing at Kansas State, Sunday.
Georgia Tech (7-2): Won third straight game, with a 57-42 win over Georgia; plays at Oregon, Saturday.
Winthrop (4-3): Won second straight game with a 58-42 win over George Mason; breaks for exams and then faces Georgia Tech in opening round of Sunsplash Shootout in the Bahamas, Dec. 18th.
Tennessee Tech (1-5): Lost to Georgia Tech, 68-56; plays at Georgia, Wednesday.
UAB (2-6): Fell at Central Michigan, 96-72; hosts the Blazer Invitational Monday and Tuesday, opening against Alabama State, Monday.
UCF (1-7): Dropped sixth straight game, 77-64, at Florida Gulf Coast; plays at Jacksonville, Monday.
Southern Miss (4-4): Snapped a three-game losing streak with an 80-71 win over in-town foe Williams Carey; hosts Southeast Missouri Saturday.
Rice (3-3): Dropped second straight game, falling to UT Arlington, 77-72; hosts UCLA after a break for exams, Wednesday.
Houston (5-2): Won second straight game and gave Joe Curl his 300th career victory with a 64-44 win over Texas Southern; hosts Cal Poly, Sunday.
East Carolina (4-3): Fell at ACC foe Virginia, 80-67; plays at UNC Wilmington after exams, Sunday.
Marshall (5-2): Had two game win streak snapped with a road loss, 73-52, at Seton Hall; hosts Ohio, Saturday.
UTEP (4-4): Fell at New Mexico State, 77-67; hosts Mississippi Valley State, Sunday.
Tulane (5-3): Won fourth straight game, 66-55 vs. Indiana State; plays at Nicholls State following exams, Wednesday.
SMU (2-5): Lost at Texas A&M, 80-48; hosts North Texas, Sunday.
Tulsa (3-5): Fell at UALR, 63-46; plays at No. 6 Oklahoma, Dec. 21st.