The University of Memphis basketball team (17-8) went into Hartford, Connecticut and dropped a crucial game against the UConn Huskies (14-11) by a score of 64-61, making it the third straight loss for Memphis.
The resume for the Tigers has worsen from when they started this road trip, but they still have big-time games left on the schedule with the likes of Houston (twice), SMU and Wichita State.
“All we can do is keep working,” Head coach Penny Hardaway said. “It’s hard to win at Cincinnati and at UConn, just like it should be hard to win at Memphis. And, when you’ve got a young team, man, we put ourselves in a situation and in a bind by losing two games at home.”
In the start of the game, Memphis came out with great offense in the half-court and great defense in the first five minutes. Memphis forward, Precious Achiuwa, within that run had seven quick points.
He looked like a lottery pick by showing some inside and outside game offensive hitting a pair of jumpers from the corner. Achiuwa also showed how great he is on the help defense situation by coming over to block shots at the rim.
As the half went on, the Huskies kept showing their toughness as they did in the first meeting against the Tigers. The main thing that kept UConn in the game in the first half was offensive rebounding.
In the first half, the Tigers were out-rebounded offensively by eight (12-4). That is a stat you have to win when playing a conference game on the road.
The score would be tied 25-25 going into halftime. Boogie Ellis and Achiuwa combined for 12 of the 25 for Memphis.
The second half started just like the first half with the Tigers getting out and scoring early. Lance Thomas scored a quick five points before UConn finally scored in the half.
It also started with the Tigers getting in early foul trouble as Lester Quinones, Ellis and Thomas all picking up their third foul in one minute at the beginning of the half.
Throughout the second half after Memphis' barrage of fouls, it was a game of runs for both teams. Every time the Tigers found an offensive groove, the Huskies would find theirs a few minutes later led by their starting guard, Christian Vital.
Ultimately, the Tigers in the last four minutes just could not mustard enough points during the UConn late rally. Vital and James Bouknight led the charge for the Huskies by making the tough layups and the open three-point shots.
“The ball isn’t moving well enough,” Hardaway said. “We talk about having a point-five mentality where the ball moves, but it seems to get stuck. Guys try to win the game on their own, and that’s what happens with young teams.”
Memphis needed a win on Sunday, and they did not do it. Now, their focus will turn to the East Carolina Pirates. ECU lost on Sunday as well against Cincinnati in overtime.
Hardaway needs to find a way to get his team in better situations late in games to succeed and win close contests. Winning their last three regular season home bouts will be crucial.
Tip-off against the Pirates is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the FedExForum.