No. 5 Memphis 68, Houston 54
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Shawne Williams scored 23 points and
grabbed eight rebounds to lead No. 5 Memphis to a 68-54 victory
over Houston in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament
Williams, the conference freshman of the year, went 6-of-13 and
missed one of his 10 free throws for the top-seeded Tigers (29-3).
Rodney Carney, the conference player of the year, added 17
points on 7-of-10 shooting and connected on all three of his
Oliver Lafayette led the Cougars with 20 points, including all
10 of his free throws. Lanny Smith and Ramon Dyer scored 12 for
Houston (20-9), and Dyer had nine rebounds.
Houston shot 26 percent, making 7-of-33 from 3-point range. The
Cougars managed five assists on their 14 field goals.
Williams and Joey Dorsey keyed a second-half flurry that built
the lead to 50-42. Dorsey, who hand nine points and nine rebounds,
began controlling the interior as Houston continued to struggle
shooting. The Cougars hit their first 15 free throws in the game to
Houston was still within four after Smith connected on a
3-pointer with nine minutes left.
Memphis then went on a 14-4 run to build the lead to 60-46 when
Dorsey scored inside with 4:17 left. Carney's dunk on a break two
minutes later gave Memphis a 64-49 lead, sending the Tigers to the
championship game Saturday against the winner of Friday's late
semifinal game between No. 24 UAB and UTEP.
Memphis couldn't get anything going in the opening minutes as
Houston caused six turnovers. Coupled with poor ball-handling,
Memphis missed its first eight shots as Houston took an early 10-0
Memphis coach John Calipari continually shuffled substitutes
trying to find some combination to score a bucket. It didn't come
until reserve Robert Dozier connected on an 8-foot hook almost six
minutes into the game.
That kickstarted a 14-2 run, capped by Williams' dunk off the
Tiger press to give Memphis its first lead.
Memphis built the advantage to six in the first half, and a
3-pointer by Antonio Anderson as the halftime horn sounded gave the
Tigers a 30-26 lead at the break.
Despite the early futility, Memphis managed to shoot 38 percent
in the half. It was Houston who struggled after the opening,
missing 11 of 12 shots at one point. The Houston defense caused 14
Memphis turnovers in the half, leading to 10 points.
Lafayette had five steals and 11 first-half points for Houston.
Williams had 13 points and seven rebounds to lead Memphis.