Memphis' Jamirah Shutes drives to the basket against SMU. (Photo: Terry Davis)

by Liaudwin Seaberry Jr. —

A frustrating week of basketball inside the Elma Roane Fieldhouse last week concluded with the first losing streak of the season for the University of Memphis women’s basketball team.

The team suffered losses in their first two American Athletic Conference games, both at home. The losses came after a stretch in which the Tigers had won nine of their first 11 contests.

The Tigers (9-4, 0-2 AAC) were defeated by the Tulsa Hurricane 72-69 on January 5th, while also being on the wrong side of a 63-44 rout against SMU three days later on January 8th.

Averaging only a 30 percent conversion rate from the field in the two games, Memphis simply found it difficult to score on the offensive end of the floor. In addition, the Tigers allowed Tulsa and SMU to convert 45 percent of their field goal attempts. Memphis’ defense, which typically stymies its opponents, failed to play to the level it reached during non-conference play. 

In spite of the recent struggles, first year head coach Katrina Merriweather remains positive and determined for her squad to improve upon their performance each game. She understands the highs and lows that come within a season, and does not want her squad to hang their heads at all. There’s still plenty of basketball left to be played, and there is something to be said for the effort that her team produced in both contests.

The University of Memphis Tigers women’s basketball team did not get off to the American Athletic Conference start that head coach Katrina Merriweather had hoped for this season after a strong pre-season showing. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender) 

“I think we played really hard, I think they tried and one thing I don’t have to worry about is them caring, because they really do,” Merriweather said after the Tulsa game. “This is the best learning lesson, and you often want to learn these lessons through wins but sometimes you have to learn through losses as well.”

The Tigers performed last Saturday in front of the largest crowd of the season, with 1,208 fans packing the Fieldhouse to watch the Tigers face SMU. Despite the support of the Memphis faithful, the Tigers got off to a turbulent start and never recovered, as the team capped off a terrible shooting day by converting 1 out of 16 field goals in the 19-point setback. Starting guards Jamirah Shutes, Emani Jefferson, and Madison Griggs shot a combined 3 of 31 from the field, and the team as a whole shot 21 percent from the field. 

Merriweather made no excuses for her squad after the contest, and appreciated the large turnout of fans. She promised her team will be better in the future, and that starts with the squad’s January 16th game against Wichita State.

“We are so thankful to have had all these people show up”, Merriweather said after the SMU loss. “That’s what makes it hurt, all of these people come out and our effort and energy wasn’t where it needed to be.”

“We just have to find a way to be tougher and to fight through, and we will.”