Tiger Women's Basketball Heading to WBI Championship

Memphis Punches Ticket to WBI Championship Game with 80-55 Win Over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

The Tigers turned 33 Islander Turnovers into 33 points to advance to finals against Appalachian State

Brittany Carter had 12 points, seven rebounds and five steals on her 21st birthday

March 25, 2010

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis women's basketball team defeated the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 80-55 to advance to the finals of the Women's Basketball Invitational, where they will face the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Sun., Mar. 28 at 2 p.m. (ET), in Boone, N.C. With the win, the Tigers improve their season record to 20-13. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi finishes the 2009-10 season with a 24-11 record.

Ramses Lonlack scored the first Tiger points of the game off a steal to set the tone for the entire game, as the Tigers would finish the contest with 33 points off of 33 Islander turnovers. The 33 turnovers forced is a season-high for the University of Memphis. The most turnovers the Tigers had forced previously was 27 against Murray State on Nov. 15. Memphis finished the game with 22 fast-break points to the Islanders two.

Memphis raced to a 22-4 lead in the first eight minutes of the game after five Tiger steals were turned into 12 of Memphis' first 22 points.

"We got out to such an electric start and such a great start defensively and just really took control of the game early," said Memphis head coach Melissa McFerrin. "I'm so happy for our players. We have 20 wins and have the chance to go to a championship game. It was on a lot of hard work that allowed us to get there."

Lonlack led a balanced scoring attack, as four Tigers scored in double figures, with a season-high 18 points. Lonlack also recorded seven steals on the game, tying a career high. Thursday's game marked the sixth time the sophomore guard has recorded five or more steals in a game this season.

"Ramses Lonlack started off in the lanes and on the ball early" McFerrin said. "She had seven steals. She told us this week that she dreams of a game where she gets 10 steals, so tonight she was trying to make that happen. We had 21 steals as a team. I don't know if I have ever coached a team that had 21 steals and it turned into a layup drill once we got our hands on the ball."

LaToya Bullard had the second-most points for the Tigers with 16 on six-of-12 shooting from the field. Brittany Carter, celebrating her 21st birthday, finished with 12 points, while Alex Winchell had 10 points on the game.

Carter heads into the final game of the season with the eighth-most single-season points of any Tiger in the history of the program with 623 points. The transfer from Georgia, came into Thursday's game averaging 19.1 points to lead the Tigers. Carter was a All-C-USA first team selection with her first season as an active member of the Memphis women's basketball team after sitting out last season due to transfer guidelines.

"The first year has been great," Carter said. "I still have a lot of work to do. I'm not done yet. The team is not done yet. We are looking forward to the future."

Memphis went to the half with a 45-21 lead over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the half-time lead was the largest lead the Tigers have had on the 2009-10 season. The final score would also prove to be the largest margin of victory for Memphis on the year.

The Islanders were led by three players (Elisa Beagle, Jade Davis and Jessica Jammer) with nine points on the game. Adrienne Scott and Lauren Smith each chipped in eight on Thursday night.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi won the rebounding battle over Memphis, 44 to 40. Beagle led the Islanders with 10 boards, while Scott and Smith each chipped in six. The leading Tiger rebounder was Savannah Ellis with eight on the game.

Memphis shot 48.5 percent on the game compared to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's 33.9 percent from the field. Both teams were pretty even from the charity stripe with the Tigers hitting 14-24 for 58.3 percent and the Islanders connecting on 13-24 for 54.2 percent.

Thursday's victory sealed the first title game appearance for the Tigers in a postseason tournament. Memphis advanced to the the semi-finals of the 1998-99 Women's NIT, where they lost to the Wisconsin Badgers. The Tigers will take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers who used a 77-58 victory over College of Charleston to advance to the finals. With Thursday's win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Tigers improve to 11-12 in postseason games and pick up their 20th victory of the year, marking the first time the Tigers have reached 20 wins since the 2003-04 season.