Women's Basketball Wrapping Up Homestand Friday Night

Dec. 13, 2012

Memphis (3-5) vs Alabama A&M (1-3)
Elma Roane Fieldhouse (Memphis, Tenn.)
Fri., December 14, 2012 - 7 pm (CT) 

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Live Coverage Alabama A&M
Radio: WUMR 91.7 FM
Video: Memphis Tiger Network
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Tigers vs. Alabama A&M
This is the second meeting between Memphis and the Lady Bulldogs of Alabama A&M out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Memphis won the only other meeting between the two teams, 81-72, in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse back on Nov. 28, 2007.

About Alabama A&M
It’s been awhile since the Lady Bulldogs have had the chance to play basketball against someone other than one of their teammates in practice. Alabama A&M, based in Huntsville, Ala., last played on Nov. 23rd, falling 76-59, at nationally-ranked Kansas. The Lady Bulldogs are playing a tough non-conference schedule. In addition to nationally-ranked Kansas, AAMU has already played on the road at Auburn, hosted fellow Conference USA member UAB, and still has a road game at No. 5 Notre Dame on its non-conference schedule for later this month. Alabama A&M opened its season with a 62-51 win over Miles, an NCAA Division II school also located in Alabama, then suffered a 72-53 loss to UAB.

Twin sisters Alyssa and Brittney Strickland lead AAMU in scoring. Alyssa averages 8.5 points a game, while Brittney averages 7.3 ppg. The young Lady Bulldogs roster features five freshmen, including Arlington High School alum Christyn Hopper. Hopper, a former teammate of Memphis’ Ariel Hearn, has appeared in three games and averages 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds for AAMU.

December 14th -- Historically
Memphis is 3-2 in games played on December 14th.

12/14/07 Belmont 78, at Memphis 66
12/14/02 Memphis 57, Jackson St 54 (at New Mexico)
12/14/97 at Memphis 102, Middle Tennessee 75
12/14/91 at Memphis 87, Grambling State 57
12/14/78 at Mississippi College 73, Memphis 72

Looking for Career Point 100

Freshman Ariel Hearn will be playing just her ninth career game Friday, but she is already looking for her first career benchmark point. She enters tonight’s contest with 96 points on the season, just four shy of 100. She is currently second on the Tigers’ roster in scoring with 12.0 points per game and ranks third with 4.9 rebounds per game. She also leads Memphis with 35 assists on the season and is the team’s leading free-throw shooter at 80.5 percent. Her 41 free-throw attempts also leads the team.

Freshmen Acclimating Quickly
With the injuries to Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Mooriah Rowser, that has opened the door for some of the other Tigers freshmen to step up their roles on the team now. The note above mentions Hearn’s abilities, as she has moved over from the starting three guard to the team’s starting point guard. Like Hearn, fellow freshman Asianna Fuqua-Bey is also coming off a career game in the loss to Illinois on Sunday. Hearn led the Tigers with 18 points, while Fuqua-Bey added 10 points for her first career double-digit scoring night. Newcomer Devin Mack isn’t a freshman, but the junior college transfer is starting to find her way in the Memphis offense. She sunk her first two career triples in the Illinois game, and finished with eight points and three rebounds, both season bests.

Tigers are Young in Age and Experience in McFerrin’s System
With five freshmen and eight newcomers on the roster, the Tigers’ coaching staff had its hands full to start the season. But with the loss of starting point guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the starting lineup got even younger. Memphis was already starting two freshmen (Ariel Hearn and Mooriah Rowser), when Rowser got hurt. She was replaced in the starting line-up by sophomore Lauren McGraw in the next game at UT Arlington, but then Abdul-Qaadir got hurt, and Melissa McFerrin had to look to freshman Jaymie Jackson to fill that gap.

The Tigers’ starting line-up on Friday night against UALR, a three-time NCAA team and a two-time defending champion in the Sun Belt Conference featured just one player who had played more than one season in McFerrin’s system at Memphis -- Nicole Dickson. Junior Pa’Sonna Hope played at Ole Miss last season and wasn’t cleared to play this season by the NCAA until Memphis Madness. Senior guard Jamila Ajanaku wasn’t cleared by the NCAA to play this season until the day before the UT Arlington game, missing all three of the Preseason WNIT games. Those two transfers started with Dickson and freshmen Hearn and Jackson in both games last weekend. Between all five of them, they had a combined 130 games worth of experience in McFerrin’s system -- with 105 of those belonging to Nicole Dickson.

With the Loss to Illinois
- The Tigers suffered a fourth straight loss. That is the first time since 2008-09, Melissa McFerrin’s first year at Memphis, that the Tigers have lost four straight games.
- Freshman forward Asianna Fuqua-Bey set a career-high with a 10-point outing off the bench; it’s her first career double-digit scoring game.
- Memphis had two freshmen in the starting lineup for the seventh time in eight games. The only game that Memphis did not start two freshmen was the win at UT Arlington. Freshman Ariel Hearn has started all eight games this season, while Jaymie Jackson has four starts and Mooriah Rowser had three starts before her season-ending knee injury.
- Junior guard Devin Mack drained her first two career three-point field goals as a Tiger. Mack was a 1,000 point scorer at Kishwaukee Junior College and finished with a Memphis career-best eight points in the game against Illinois. Senior guard Jamila Ajanaku also hit her first Tiger career triple in the game against Illinois, banking in a three and finishing with a Memphis career-best five points.
- Pa’Sonna Hope battled foul trouble, playing just 17 minutes and finishing with four fouls. The limited time on the court hurt the Tigers. Hope, who was 3-for-3 from the field for the game, had her double-digit scoring streak snapped at three games, finishing with seven points and seven rebounds.
- After shooting over 50 percent from the field in three of the first four games for Memphis this season, Nicole Dickson has drawn a lot of defensive attention lately. She is a combined 9-for-38 from the field over the last two games (23.7 percent) and is 2-for-14 from three-point range (14.3 percent) and 1-for-4 from the free-throw line (25.0 percent). So far this season, she is averaging over five shots a game more than last year. She’s taking 18.5 shots per game this season, compared to 13.2 per game last year. She has scored double-digit points in all eight games so far this season, but she’s been held to just 10.5 ppg in the last two outings.

Theme for December -- Opponents With New Coaches
December is a month for the Tigers to face programs with new head coaches, starting with Sunday’s match-up against Illinois. Memphis will also face a program with a new head coach when they play at Saint Louis on Dec. 19th. Former Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone has taken over the Billiken program. The Tigers’ final opponent of the month, Tennessee Tech, also has a new head coach. Jim Davis has taken over the Golden Eagles program. Davis spent 18 years as the head coach at Clemson University, advancing his team to the Sweet 16 four times.

Dickson Moves Up in Career Scoring and Rebounding
With her 30-point effort at East Tennessee State, senior forward Nicole Dickson leapfrogged up to 17th on the all-time scoring ledger at Memphis, passing former teammate Ramses Lonlack (1,166 pts) and Lynn Enzweiler (1,185 pts). Dickson now has 1,204 career points and needs 95 more points to tie Victoria Crawford’s (2002-05) mark of 1,299 points, which is 16th all-time.

Dickson also passed former teammate Jasmine Lee’s rebounding mark of 597 to move to 17th all-time in rebounding with 603 career boards. She needs just eight more rebounds to tie Wanda Dillard’s (1984-88) mark of 611. Dillard was the most recently inductee from women’s basketball into the M Club Hall of Fame.

Hearn Taking Over the Point
With the Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir suffering a hand injury in the win at UT Arlington, the weight of running the Tigers’ offense has fallen to freshman point guard Ariel Hearn. Hearn had been starting as one of team’s other guards prior to Abdul-Qaadir’s injury, and was also spelling the red shirt junior at the point. But Hearn is now quarterbacking the Memphis offense with Abdul-Qaadir forced to try to help from the Tigers’ sidelines. Hearn, a graduate of Arlington High School, has 35 assists on the season against 28 turnovers and is trying to balance ball distribution with her own ability to score. She averages 12.0 points per game and is one of the better rebounding guards on the team with 4.9 rebounds a game. She is also one of the team’s better free-throw shooters, shooting 80.5 percent, which is good when combined with her ability to get to the rim.

Opponent Check-Up
Grambling State (1-6): Picked up first win of the season with a 64-63 victory over Stephen F. Austin in their home opener; plays at Florida State, Saturday, Dec. 15th.
Middle Tennessee (6-4, 1-0 Sun Belt): Lost at No. 7 Kentucky, 68-46; hosts FIU, Thursday.
Illinois State (5-3): Defeated Northwestern, 64-46; hosts Ball State, Sunday. 
Texas-Arlington (1-7): Lost to UT-Pan American, 59-57; breaks for exams before playing at North Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 18th.
Prairie View A&M (2-4): Picked up a second straight road win, 63-31, at Northwestern State; plays at Kansas, Dec. 16th.
East Tennessee State (2-2): Picked up a second straight win, 57-53, at Morehead State; plays at LSU, Thursday.

UALR (8-1): Off to best start in school history with a 56-44 win at Memphis; hosts Tulsa, Tuesday.

Illinois (6-4): Defeated Oregon, 80-62; hosts Illinois State, Friday, Dec. 21st.

Alabama A&M (1-3): Lost at Kansas, 76-59; plays at Memphis, Friday.

Saint Louis (5-5): Picked up a road win with a 63-59 victory at Evansville; hosts Memphis, Wednesday, Dec. 19th.

Seton Hall (3-6): Lost at Wake Forest, 64-63; hosts Mt. St. Mary’s, Sunday.

Missouri (8-2): Downed Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 97-59; hosts Southern Illinois, Sunday.

Tennessee Tech (5-4): Won second straight game, 61-56, over Western Carolina; plays at St. John’s Saturday.

Wright State (4-4): Won second straight game, 78-61, over Urbana; plays at Xavier, Saturday.

Houston (4-6): Lost to Creighton, 75-54; hosts Texas State, Dec. 22nd.

Southern Miss (4-4): Dropped second straight road game, 73-55, at UL Monroe; hosts Loyola (La.) College, Saturday.

East Carolina (7-2): Defeated North Carolina Central, 65-28; plays at VCU, Sunday.

Tulane (7-1): Used overtime to come back and down LSU, 66-64; hosts UL-Lafayette, Wednesday.

UAB (7-2): Lost at George Mason, 58-55; hosts Morehead State, Tuesday.

UCF (3-6): Defeated Bethune-Cookman, 64-43; plays at FIU, Thursday.
Rice (3-4): Defeated McNeese State, 60-51; hosts Chicago State, Thursday.

Marshall (5-4): Picked up a road win, 70-66, at Southern Illinois; hosts Ohio, Saturday.

SMU (6-2): Downed UT-Pan American, 71-35; hosts UL Monroe, Monday.

UTEP (8-1): Remains unbeaten at home with a 71-34 win over Eastern New Mexico; plays at Kansas State, Sunday.

Tulsa (3-5): Extended winning streak to three with a 58-43 win over Colorado State; plays at BYU, Saturday.



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