In the Memphis Tigers’ (13-15) final home game of the season, they suffered yet another loss to the University of Central Florida Knights (18-9).
The loss was more painful because it took place on a day that was meant to celebrate the Tigers’ lone senior, guard Gazmyne Herndon.
Herndon, a Memphis native, transferred to Memphis by way of Walters State College prior to the start of the 2018 season. In addition to tonight’s game, she had started 45 of her 59 career games, including 26 this season.
In her final Tigers’ home game, she had six points, four assists, three rebounds and a block.
Of her final game at Elma Roane, Herndon said that it has been an incredible journey.
"It’s really bittersweet,” Herndon said. “I’ve spent at least a year with my teammates, so it’s hard to think it’s almost over.”
Her head coach, Melissa McFerrin sang her praises following the game and said that she was a valuable offensive weapon.
“She has a unique ability to get to the rim,” McFerrin said. “She’s lightning quick and when she gets to the rim she can create havoc.”
Through the first quarter, the Tigers made things difficult for the Knights and kept things close despite the latter’s best effort to pull away.
They managed to end the first quarter tied with the Knights 14-14, led by their 46.2 percent field goal percentage. Their defense stifled the Knights as well as them shooting just 33.3 percent from the field in the opening period.
In the second quarter, the Tigers were able to capitalize early on the Knights' poor scoring, and they created a slight 20-14 scoring advantage. Midway through the quarter, the Knights began to get a grip on their scoring and outscored the Tigers 11-8 in the half’s final 5:15.
This gave the Knights the 29-28 lead going into halftime.
By the time the third quarter began, both teams were ready for battle as they both shot the ball well. The Tigers made four three-pointers in the first five minutes of the quarter which doubled the amount of threes that they made in the first half.
Those big plays not only helped keep them stay competitive with the Knights, but also helped make history.
With guard, Madison Griggs’ third quarter three-point barrage led to her making Memphis history. She broke the record for three-pointers made by a freshman in a season with 80. That is the most for any male or female Tigers’ player. She finished the game with five three-pointers made.
About her freshman’s historic day, McFerrin said that she’s continued to step up in the moments that the team need her the most.
“She’s been one of those rare freshmen who have been able to perform regardless of the circumstances,” McFerrin said. “Particularly with Jamirah [Shutes] out, she’s been a player that defenders have had to focus on. She’s got a really good, calm mindset and I’m looking forward to coaching her for the next few years.”
Even with the Tigers’ high-octane scoring, the game was still close, with the quarter ending 48-45 with the Knights still on top.
With the fourth quarter underway, the Knights began to pull away and outscored the Tigers early 9-3 in the first 2:42 minutes of the period.
The Tigers continued to fight hard and would even bring the game within six points in the final three minutes. Still, that was not enough for the Tigers to win, and they were defeated 67-59.
Following this final home game, the Tigers close out their regular season against Southern Methodist University on Monday in Dallas. After that, Memphis will be traveling to the Northeast to participate in the AAC Women’s Basketball Tournament.