As the Memphis Tigers turned the ball over for the 22nd time, head women’s coach Melissa McFerrin turned to the bench and searched for any answer to the turnover bug.
Fortunately for the 12th-year head coach, Jamirah Shutes came through down the stretch.
Shutes, who was grieving over the loss of a childhood friend, made two free throws to ice the game for the Tigers(10-9, 1-4). The Tigers picked up their first conference win of the season – and they played their butts off to get the victory.
— Memphis Women's Basketball (@MemphisWBB) January 22, 2020
“I have been in a slump lately and it’s been hard because of the loss of a good friend of mine, but I am slowly starting to come around,” said Shutes, who scored eight of the Tigers last nine points in the win. “The name of my friend is Jalen Watkins, and he recently passed away.”
Along with Shutes, who played a magnificent game despite the off the court loss of her friend, freshman guard Madison Griggs added 3 three-pointers, finishing with nine points on the evening. Freshman Aerial Wilson chipped in nine points as well, and junior forward Alana Davis provided nine points as well.
SMU (7-10, 1-4) was led by Reagan Bradley, who poured in 14 points for the Mustangs. Johnasia Cash, the cousin of former WNBA legend Swin Cash, chipped in 10 points. Kayla White also contributed 12 points for the Mustangs, who shot 38 percent from the field.
The Tigers converted 22 of their 44 field goals, which made up for some late lapses on defense in the fourth quarter. Both teams played their hearts out, which has McFerrin relieved that the Tigers were able to pull out a victory, despite the 22 turnovers committed by her squad throughout the contest.
“We knew it was a really tough stretch for us”, McFerrin stated of the Tigers’ 0-4 start to conference play. “It’s good to get that first win in conference, and we are going to continue to build from there.”
The Tigers will go on the road and face Central Florida on Saturday.