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Merriweather thanks fans after Tigers ride 7-game win streak to No. 2 spot in AAC tournament

After the University of Memphis Tigers defeated Tulane (55-44) to conclude the regular season, head coach Katrina Merriweather took care of some important business before heading to the locker room to celebrate the big victory.

Merriweather did not want Memphis fans to leave the Elma Roane Fieldhouse without her acknowledging their loyalty and dedication throughout the season.

“We couldn’t have gotten second place without y’all. We have the best fans,” Merriweather said, referring to her squad’s second-place finish in the American Athletic Conference.

“Thank y’all so much. Our administration is awesome. Thanks to everyone.”

From the outset of Wednesday night game, Memphis (19-9, 11-4 AAC) set the tone, jumping out to a 16-10 lead behind two first-quarter connections from deep by sharpshooter Madison Griggs. Griggs finished with 13 points, with fellow guard Jamirah Shutes posting a team-high 14 points.

Memphis’ shooting and defense wore down Tulane, as the Green Wave (17-12, 7-11 AAC) converted on just 6 of 23 shots in the second half. With its sweltering defense, Memphis built a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and never relented.

Tulane star Dynah Jones never found her rhythm. Although she finished with 15 points, Jones only converted on 4 of her 15 shot attempts. A slew of Memphis defenders teamed to throw Jones off her game. Merriweather particularly noted the efforts of Memphis wing Shelbee Brown.

“I think that Jones is a great player and that she is really hard to guard,” Merriweather said. “Shelbee Brown really did a good job of denying her the ball and making it hard for her to score.”

Memphis’ freshman center Destiny Thomas attempts a free throw as junior Shelbee Brown (#3) attempts to box out a Tulane defender. (Photo: Liaudwin Seaberry Jr./The New Tri-State Defender)

Securing the No. 2 seed in next week’s AAC tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, was the goal entering the contest and the Tigers got the job done.

Merriweather, who is in her second season with Memphis, recalled the Tigers’ 0-2 start in conference play, and noted how the team rallied to go 11-2 the rest of the way.

The second-place finish is the best for Memphis as a member of the AAC.

“It was a long time coming for us,” she said. “We expected to get some results in the beginning of conference play, but we didn’t get them. This team came together and fixed the things that needed to be fixed.”

Asked why she felt compelled to acknowledged the crowd after the win, Merriweather said, “This atmosphere, the fans.

“I have never been in a place so adamant about women’s basketball. We appreciate it and wouldn’t be here without everyone who’s supported us.”

Memphis will play its first game in the AAC tournament in the second round against the winner of Tulsa vs Tulane on March 7. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.


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