Memphis Tigers ride Jahvon Quinerly’s clutch shooting to another win, beating SMU 62-59

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On Thursday, Jahvon Quinerly nailed a late-game three-pointer to give the Memphis Tigers a win over Tulsa. So how would Quinerly top his dramatic heroics on Sunday against the SMU Mustangs?

By nailing a late-game three-pointer to give the Tigers a 62-59 win, that’s how.

The Tigers were already missing one of their key players, Caleb Mills. Mills was hurt in the road win over Tulsa on Thursday and is feared to miss the rest of the season. But the squad overcame a lackluster first half to storm back and set up Quinerly’s clutch shot for the win and extending their win streak to eight games.

“It was a big shot,” Quinerly said after the game. “Credit to my teammates for believing in me. This is my spot.”

“For me, these types of wins are more special,” added Tigers Head Coach Penny Hardaway. “Nothing was perfect about it, and we still found a way to win against a good SMU team.”

To say the Tigers (13-2, 2-0 American) were struggling offensively in the first half would be an understatement. Shooting under 30 percent with less than six minutes left, they were down 30-15 with 4:59 remaining. Quinerly struggled early too.

“The last two games, it has taken me too long to get going,” he said. “I am not trying to take bad shots. I am trying to get off in the flow of the offense. I have to be more aggressive.”

With 4:20 left, Jayhlon Young’s steal and layup sparked a 7-0 run, making it 30-22. The Mustangs led at halftime, 36-24, outrebounding Memphis 25-9 and outscoring them in the paint 24-12. Memphis never led in the first half, only tying once at 2-2.

“At halftime, I talked to the team about rebounding and asked, ‘Do I need to say anything more?'” Hardaway recalled. “They did not say anything. We are not going to panic, but we do have to fight. They are fighting harder than us in our building. We came out and held them to 23 points and outrebounded them in the second half.”

Memphis started the second half strong with a 10-2 run, including a pair of three-pointers by David Jones and Jaykwon Walton, making it 38-34. The Tigers’ defense then stepped up, with a blocked shot by Jahvon Quinerly leading to a Malcolm Dandridge breakaway dunk for a 40-38 lead. Dandridge tied the game at 41 with another assist from Jones.

Jones assisted Nick Jourdain on a layup to tie the game at 43 with 11:36 left. With 9:32 remaining, Nae Quan Tomlin was called for a foul and received a technical flagrant one, resulting in his fifth foul and disqualification from the game.

Ricardo Wright’s three-pointer with 2:24 left cut Memphis’ lead to one point, 58-57. Tyreek Smith then tied the game at 58 with a free throw with 2:01 left. With 12.3 seconds remaining, a jump ball call gave the Tigers possession. Quinerly hit a game-winning three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left, securing the victory.

Jones’ basket with 8:19 left gave the Tigers their first lead of the game, 48-46. Quinerly’s first points, a three-pointer, extended the lead to 52-46. His basket with 4:45 left made it 56-50, but Chuck Harris cut the deficit to 56-54 shortly after. Wright’s three-pointer with 2:40 remaining made it a one-point game, 58-57. Smith’s free throw then tied the game at 58 before Quinerly’s decisive three-pointer.

The Mustangs (10-5, 1-1 American) were led by Smith with 21 points off the bench, the only SMU player in double-digits. SMU outrebounded the Tigers 48-35 and had 16 turnovers, making only 3 of 21 three-point shots.

“It was a hard-fought game. Credit to Memphis for pulling it out. Huge shot by Quinerly, and we still had a chance,” said Mustangs head coach Rob Lanier. “I am proud of my guys for putting us in a position to win. We have been in four really close games. Ultimately, we are going to develop some poise and make a breakthrough here soon.”

Jones led the Tigers with 17 points and nine rebounds. Quinerly, after a slow start, finished with 11 points and 4 assists. Walton had 10 points, and Young added six points, three rebounds, and two assists in 13 minutes. The Tigers made 10 of 19 free throws and finished shooting 44 percent from the floor, including 6 of 20 from three-point range.

Young commented on his performance, “I try to do whatever I can to win. I try to take every play as hard as I can.” Regarding his steal, he said, “I felt like we didn’t have any energy. We were getting killed on the boards. I had to find a way to get us going.”

On missing Mills, Hardaway said, “It is going to affect us a lot. Caleb is one of our leaders. He is the most vocal. He is one of our best defenders, and he can get it going offensively. It is going to have us shift in major ways. We are going to do it by committee. We are winning while getting better,” he added.

Next up for the Tigers is a meeting with the University of Texas at San Antonio on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 7 pm at the FedExForum.