There are teams that naturally know how to win, and there are teams that find winning to be a learning process, and the process can be long-winded and very frustrating.
The 2020 University of Memphis women’s basketball Tigers certainly fit into the latter category. A tough and hard-nosed squad, they fight until the very end, regardless of the score.
Saturday afternoon, however, saw this team run into a University of South Florida (USF) squad that simply was hungrier than the Tigers.
USF defeated Memphis at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse 68-47, improving their record to 16-11 overall, 8-5 in conference play.
The Tigers came into Saturday’s contest sporting a 13-13 record, 4-9 in AAC play. Hoping to snap a two-game losing streak, the young Tigers quickly fell behind against an overpowering USF squad, trailing 23-10 after the first period of play.
Led by guard Syndi Harvey, who scored 9 of her 12 points in the first quarter, USF rode their torrid start to a 17-point lead at halftime.
In the second half, it was pretty much the same story for the Tigers, who fought hard down the stretch, despite trailing by as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter.
Junior Keke Hunter led the Tigers in scoring with 11 points and 8 rebounds, and was a terror on defense. Memphis, however, only shot a putrid 22 percent from the field, preventing the team from truly getting back into the game.
“We were playing a lot of one-on-one basketball in the paint and when it came to shooting,” Memphis guard Aerial Wilson said after the game. “I think that some of it has to do with the fact that we got in our own heads and we did not move the ball around at all.”
The Tigers certainly did not provide enough defense for themselves, permitting the Bulls to shoot 45 percent from the field.
As the Tigers stumbled their way to a third consecutive loss, assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Jessica Bogia said the coaching staff is proud the Tigers still are fighting hard despite, because of injuries, having only six healthy players.
“We always remind them that they are talented and they can do some damage in the conference tournament,” Bogia said. “This group is special, they are bought in, and they want to win.”
The Tigers will face the University of Central Florida in their home finale next Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.