ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Memphis women's basketball team (8-8, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) had four players score double-digits in their first American Athletic Conference win, 88-52, at UCF, Saturday.
"It was a good day today in Orlando for the Tigers," Head Coach Melissa McFerrin said. "We were not sure coming into the game what they would throw at us with their personnel change before this game, so we just had to come out, play hard and try to get this first conference win."
The game started off as a track meet, with both teams happy to run up and down the floor. UCF was without Briahanna Jackson, the team's leading scorer who left UCF before Saturday's game against Memphis.
Memphis quickly went to work inside, getting six points from Pa'Sonna Hope to build an 8-2 lead early on. With Hope established inside, UCF tried to counter inside with its post players, but the Tigers' guard got the team out in transition and shot UCF out of their zone defense. Memphis, who had 34 points in the paint in the win, used buckets in transition to a 10-point first half lead at 27-17 with 8:06 left in the game.
But foul troubles, an issue in each of the previous three American Athletic Conference games, became an issue again, as four Tigers had two fouls. The host Knights used the free-throw line to pull to 31-27 down before free throws from Breigha Wilder-Cochran and a pair of jumpers from Mooriah Rowser helped Memphis escape to the locker room up 38-33 at the break.
Memphis came out of the locker room on an 8-2 run to go up 46-35 and force a UCF timeout with 18:23 left to play. After that break, UCF scored just two buckets in the next 11 minutes, while the Tigers spread the offense out and pushed the lead to the final 36 point advantage at 88-52.
"We did a great job of just sharing the basketball today," McFerrin said. The Tigers had 19 assists on 30 made baskets and converted 19 UCF turnovers into 21 points.
Ariel Hearn finished with 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting, adding three rebounds, four steals and two assists. Pa'Sonna Hope finished with 18 points, and Breigha Wilder-Cochran filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals in 24 minutes. Rowser finished with 12 points off the bench, helping Memphis to its first conference win.
The Tigers return home to host Rutgers and their Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer, Tuesday, at 7 p.m. in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.