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Tigers win overtime thriller on Senior Day

Through the emotions of Senior Day to the thrills of yet another overtime, the University of Memphis women’s basketball team came away with a hard-fought 93-83 victory over the East Carolina Pirates at Elma Roane Fieldhouse Saturday.

The Tigers improved to 17-11 (11-6 American Athletic Conference) on the season, as they swept ECU (11-18, 5-12 American Athletic Conference) for the first time since the 2011-12 season. The Tigers, who sit in fourth place in the conference, now lead the all-time series with the Pirates 15-12.

Tiger seniors Ariel Hearn, Asianna Fuqua-Bey, Mooriah Rowser and Brianna Wright, who took the floor at the Fieldhouse for their final regular season home game, each finished with double-digit scoring.

Hearn led the way for the Tigers with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Fuqua-Bey finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Rowser finished with 18 points, including six crucial fourth quarter-points that helped the Tigers send it to overtime. Wright recorded 14 points and nine rebounds.

Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin said this is one of the most special groups she has had the privilege of coaching and attributed their efforts with getting the program back to respectability.

“There is one thing about being a senior and you don’t know what it’s like until you’re a senior,” she said, “And I really think they took some things to heart. They wanted to be players this program could remember and be proud of. Ariel Hearn, Mooriah Rowser, Asianna Fuqua-Bey and Brianna Wright, they put Memphis back on the map in the American Athletic Conference.”

Although the Tigers struggled defensively allowing ECU to shoot 51.5 percent from the field, turnovers and free throws proved to be the biggest factors of the game.

Memphis managed to force 22 ECU turnovers compared to just 15 of its own. The Tigers also racked up 22 points off of 31 free throw attempts, compared to 10 points off just 12 attempts for the Pirates.

Redshirt senior guard Jada Payne led the Pirates with a game-high 28 points, as well as seven rebounds. Three other Pirates finished with double-figure scoring as well, in redshirt junior forward Marina Laramie (21 points and four rebounds), senior forward Devaughn Gray (14 points and seven assists) and senior forward L’Tiana Taylor (12 points and six rebounds).

The Tigers have now won eight of their last 10 games. 

Hearn said teamwork is the key to building on their success moving forward.

“Just stay together,” she said. “Lately we’ve been talking about being a team, doing everything as a team. You know it’s not about me, Asianna, Mooriah or anybody else on the team. It’s about doing it for each other and I really think that’s starting to stick in our head, and going to the tournament I think that’s going to be great.”

The Tigers will travel to Houston for their final regular season game 7 p.m. Monday.

“That’s a difficult place to play, Houston always has been,” McFerrin said. “They’re a team that hasn’t had incredible success in the conference this year, but it’s going to be their Senior Night. They have seniors just like the rest of us and they are going to be incredibly motivated.”

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