Tigers struggle through second half, lose to UTEP
Senior post player Jasmine Lee had 16 points and seven rebounds in the loss at UTEP, despite being injured in the second half. Joe Murphy
It's not over till the fat lady sings. It's a cliché in sports, but it fit perfectly when the University of Memphis women's basketball team collapsed Sunday at the University of Texas-El Paso, surrendering a 19-point halftime lead in a 66-60 loss to the Miners.
The Tigers came out quickly to open the game with a 6-0 run. Junior forward Nicole Dickson gave the Tigers a 17-6 advantage at the 15:54 mark of the first half after hitting two consecutive three-point field goals.
Memphis was able to control the boards in the first half with 20 defensive rebounds while holding a 10-point advantage in the paint over the Miners. The Lady Tigers also hit on 56.7 percent of their field goals (17-30) in the first half.
Whatever UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said to her team in the locker room at the half must have worked. The Miners dashed out of the locker room with a 15-0 run to begin the second half. To add to the Tigers' woes, senior post player Jasmine Lee left the game for part of the second half leaving Memphis without its primary post player.
"Well, we think she is okay, I mean she got banged up just a little bit," head coach Melissa McFerrin said. "But Jasmine Lee is not the entirety of our team. We have players who can step in, we have Brittany Carter, we have Ramses Lonlack, we have Nicole Dickson, and we have (sophomore guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir) who has been running this team for a significant amount of time now."
Although Memphis does have other players to turn to, Lee's absence changed the game. The Tigers resorted to shooting outside of the paint, shooting just 7-33 (21.2 percent) from the field in the second half. They were also outrebounded 32-14.
The Miners were led by freshman guard Jenzel Nash and sophomore forward Kayla Thornton, who each scored 17 points.
UTEP sank four-straight free throws after leading 62-60 to close out the game and defeat the Tigers 66-60.
Despite missing much of the second half, Lee led the Tigers with 16 points. Nicole Dickson chipped in 15 points and Abdul-Qaadir added 10 of her own.
"We have to be able to recover from that," McFerrin said. "Quite honestly there is no excuse for what happened in the second half. We have too many upperclassmen that we should have to endure a half like that."
The Tigers return to the court Sunday when they take on the East Carolina Pirates at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse with tip-off set for 1 p.m.
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