by Liaudwin Seaberry Jr. —
Outrebound the opposing squad and play solid defense – that has been the two-pronged success formula for head coach Katrina Merriweather and the University of Memphis Tigers this season.
The Tigers (13-6, 3-4) followed that blueprint to a high degree against Cincinnati, emerging victorious (66-54) on Wednesday (Feb. 2). Memphis outrebounded the Bearcats 49-41 and held them to 32 percent shooting.
“Our shot selection was great, and we were a lot more patient on the offensive end of the floor,” Merriweather said.
Performing on National Women in Sports Day, the Tigers put in one of their most complete defensive efforts of the season.
Guards Emani Jefferson and Jamirah Shutes sparked much of the offensive success. Jefferson scored a team-high 15 points and Shutes chipped in 14. While the Tigers only shot 34 percent, their shots found the bottom of the net when it mattered most.
Leading by a point at halftime, the Tigers improved their level of play after the break. They outscored Cincinnati 31-20 throughout the third and fourth quarters.
“We did a great job of settling down and keeping them in front of us without fouling,” Merriweather said about the team’s second-half defense.
Coming off a close victory over the Houston Cougars last Saturday, the Tigers’ two-game roll had Merriweather talking about the team’s burgeoning confidence.
“This win gives our team confidence that we can go anywhere and compete, and that starts with practice and then Saturday (Feb. 5) against UCF (University of Central Florida),” Merriweather said.
UCF (15-3, 7-1) is a formidable foe, sporting the American Athletic Conference’s best record. The first matchup of the season between the two teams is set for a 1 p.m. tipoff in Orlando.