Memphis played South Florida tough but could not get by the No 23-ranked Bulls. (Photo: Matthew W. Smith/gotigersgo.com)

When the unranked University of Memphis women’s basketball squad faced off against the No. 23-ranked Bulls from South Florida, seizing opportunities was a pre-game priority.

Despite a strong showing from star center Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (MEND-JEE-A-DEW), who poured in 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, the Tigers fell short, 65-58, at UofM’s Elma Roane Fieldhouse on Wednesday.

Head Coach Melissa McFerrin was direct in describing the Tigers’ downfall.

“There were several key moments in the contest that we had an opportunity to capitalize, and we just didn’t,” she said.

Memphis (2-3, 0-1) hit on five of 11 shots in the first quarter as Mendjiadeu scored eight pumps, sparking the Tigers to a 20-16 lead. Inefficiency and turnovers on the offensive end marred the second quarter, with the Tigers only able to connect on three of 15 shots. Only post players – Alana Davis, Lanetta Williams and Mendjiadeu – were able to put the ball in the basket.

South Florida guards Elisa Pinzan and Elena Tsnieke carried the Bulls offensively in the first half. Despite shooting only 37 percent from the field, the Bulls took a 31-26 lead into halftime.

A slow third-quarter start by the Tigers on offense put them in a bind as South Florida (4-1,1-0) stretched the lead to 39-26. Memphis freshman guard Coriah Beck nailed several key jumpers to keep the Tigers in the game.

Clawing back, Memphis cut the deficit to three points (50-47) as the game moved into the final frame.

However, there would be no upset. USF’s shooting and tough defense simply was too much for Memphis, as the Tigers’ Mendjiadeu and sharpshooter Madison Griggs, who was limited to five points, fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

“We fought our butts off,” McFerrin said.

“We played a very tough team down to the wire, but in the end it’s about doing the little things right and emerging victorious.”