TAMPA, FLA. - The University of Memphis Lady Tiger basketball team will head into the Conference USA Tournament on a six-game losing streak after dropping an 80-61 decision to the South Florida Bulls here Sunday afternoon.
The loss drops Memphis to 11-16 overall, 5-9 in C-USA, and brands Memphis with the longest losing streak they have had since the 1992-93 season. That season also marked the last time that Memphis had recorded a losing season (12-16).
The win for South Florida was their biggest margin of victory in C-USA play since the start of the league, and improved the Bulls to 14-13, 4-10 in the conference. South Florida managed a 38-31 lead at the half after shooting 55 percent from the field and holding Memphis to a 36 percent shooting clip. The Lady Tigers used a 9-1 run at the opening of the second half to close the gap to one, 39-38, but that would be as close as they would get to swinging the momentum.
USF led 70-57 with just under three minutes left to play before Memphis was forced to foul, sending USF to the line five times in the final minutes. USF scored eight straight points off charity shots before Allison AuBuchon hit their final basket with 11 seconds left for the eventual 19-point win.
"We need people who are going to step up for us," said head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. "This team's frustration level is very high and the confidence level is extremely low. We really struggled today and this is not a position we wanted to be in heading into the tournament." Sophomore Princess Swilley led Memphis' offensive effort with 15 points off a 7-of-18 effort from the field. Melissa Abraham recorded her 13th career double-double after scoring 12 points and hauling in a team-high 11 rebounds. Junior Shannon Hamp also scored in double figures with 11 points.
Sonia Cotton led USF in the win with 25 points off an 8-of-15 effort from the field, and a 7-of-10 showing at the free-throw line. AuBuchon added 13 points while Jen Kline and Sarah Lochmann both chipped in 12 points apiece. USF forced Memphis to turn the ball over 23 times, while UM outrebounded USF, 38-37.
The Lady Tigers will enter the C-USA Tournament as the No. 10 seed and will face the seventh-seeded Charlotte 49ers in the first round of the C-USA Tournament next Friday at 1 p.m. Earlier this season, the Lady Tigers defeated Charlotte, 91-56, in Memphis.
The Lady Tigers have struggled this season on the road, posting a 2-9 record away from Memphis. Memphis' only C-USA road win this season was over Saint Louis early in January.