The University of Memphis women’s basketball team headed into last weekend’s matchup with East Carolina determined to build on the last two games it played – victories over Tulsa and Cincinnati. For three quarters, winning appeared within reach for the Tigers.
Then came the fourth quarter – a 23-point frame for the Pirates, who erased the Tigers’ three-point, third-quarter lead on the way to a 67-53 victory on Saturday at Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
“We missed some layups and made several key mistakes when the game was on the line, and it was pretty much classic things that we did not do,” said Memphis head coach Melissa McFerrin said. “Due to the pressure, perhaps we were moving a little faster than normal, and that led to a lot of mistakes.”
The Tigers (4-8, 2-6) led by three (19-16) at the end of the first quarter, held a two-point advantage (34-32) at halftime and outpointed the Pirates (6-10, 4-7) 13-12 in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, ECU began to find its mark, outscoring the Tigers 23-6 in the final frame. Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (MEND-JEE-A_DEW), who scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Tigers, provided the only offense that Memphis produced in the quarter.
A Tiger defense that had been stifling most of the game began to break down. East Carolina shot nearly 50 percent from the field in the last quarter while holding the Tigers to 14 percent.
The Tigers turned the ball over 28 times in the game, including several turnovers down the stretch. Memphis guard Jamirah Shutes, who played in her first game in over a year due to injury, said the Tigers’ lack of ball management cost the team in the end.
“As a unit, we were not taking care of the ball, especially late,” Shutes said. “It’s that simple.”
McFerrin, who liked how her team dealt with the pressure in the first half, said ECU’s defense confused her squad in the second half.
“Our spacing and decision making were both bad against their pressure, and they did a great job of trapping us and ripping the ball out of our hands,” McFerrin said.
Lashonda Monk led the Pirates with 20 points and 5 assists.
Memphis forward Alana Davis scored 11 points, with guards Madison Griggs and Coriah Beck each producing eight points.
Memphis returns to the court at Elma Roane Fieldhouse to play Cincinnati on Wednesday (Feb. 10), with tipoff set for 6:30 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN+.