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Tigers bound for WNIT Super 16 round with two-win confidence

The University of Memphis Tigers still have a lot of post-season hunger in them. Bring on Bowling Green.

The Tigers (22-10) earned a spot among the WNIT’s Super 16 with a 79-62 victory over Ball State University at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse on Monday night. Memphis’ second win in the tournament sets up a trip to the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio, where they will play the Falcons (29-6) of the Mid-American Conference.

“There was never a time that I questioned whether this team wanted to win and that’s why this team has the ability to continue their season,” said Memphis head coach Katrina Merriweather.

The Tigers charged at Ball State’s Cardinals with a 20-0 opening run. The visitors from Muncie, Indiana took the punch and pushed back with a 32-12 run in the second quarter. At the half, Memphis led by seven (39-32).

Fifth-year senior Jamirah Shutes, who turned in a 23-point performance for Memphis, said the Tigers remained confident.

“Basketball is a game of runs, and we knew that they had shooters,” Shutes said. “It was not as if we didn’t expect them to not make a run.”

As she did in Memphis’ opening-round takedown of Jackson State, Shutes stepped up strong in the second half, scoring 14 or her game-high 23 points.

The Tigers shifted to a gear the Cardinals could not match in the fourth quarter. Memphis limited Ball State to 3 of 12 shooting in the final frame of play, turning an 8-point lead into a 17-point final deficit.

Emani Jefferson scored 15 points for the Tigers, with Madison Griggs adding 11 points.

Thursday’s game against Bowling Green is set to tip off at 5 p.m. It will be a return to familiar territory for Merriweather.

“From my days of coaching in Ohio, we know that Bowling Green will be tough and undersized but will play hard,” she said.

“What’s got me encouraged about this team is (they are) not tired of each other, and they want to continue playing and winning with one another.”

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