After a contest where the Tigers (9-8, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) gave their best to come away with the upset victory, they were eventually bested by the No. 4 UConn Huskies (14-1, 4-0 AAC) 68-56.
Prior to this game, the Tigers had lost their last three games, all against conference opponents. This comes after an impressive December where they won all five of their games.
Against UConn, they kept it competitive in the first quarter, and even ended the first period with a 21-15 lead. Forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu was the catalyst and scored a team-high 10 points in the opening period.
She shot 3-of-4 from the field and made all four of her free throw attempts.
Off her hot start, the junior said that it’d always been a goal of hers to play in such a big game.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing a team like UConn,” Mendjiadeu said. “My mindset for this game was that I had to play with heart and play hard with my team.”
Mendjiadeu would finish the game with 21 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.
During the second quarter, UConn began to battle back and converted on each of their first three baskets, but the Tigers were still able to keep control of the lead for much of the time with the help of Jamirah Shutes.
The aggressive guard would not be denied in the second quarter where she scored her first five points of the game. She’d later finish with eight points, three rebounds and one assists.
Their defense played a big role in their play as well as they were able to force UConn into uncommon mistakes and force nine turnovers in the first half.
An impressive mark when you realize that coming into this game the Huskies averaged 14.1 turnovers a game.
However, by the 32 second mark of the quarter the Huskies earned the 35-33 lead and never looked back. This finally came after outscoring the Tigers 20-12 in the period.
When the teams returned from halftime, it was clear that the Huskies wanted to get started fast and did just that, getting out on a quick 8-1 run to start the period.
Even with the Huskies getting more of their shots to drop, Memphis still managed to keep themselves within reach, staying within 10 points until the UConn was able to force back to back failed possessions and guard Christyn Williams’ scored consecutive layups.
When the game was all said and done, the Huskies managed to hold off the Tigers’ comeback bid, despite the score being as close as three points at one time.
However, UConn was able to capitalize on Memphis’ mistakes and walk away with the hard fought conference win.
When talking about her team’s performance, Tigers’ head coach, Melissa McFerrin praised her team’s effort against such a tough opponent.
“Our kids’ played their tails off,” McFerrin said. “I appreciate the fact that they competed really hard, and honestly if we had four less turnovers late in the game, it would have been a great game in the end.”
The Tigers will be back in action on Tuesday in search of their first conference win as they’ll be facing the SMU Mustangs here at Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.