Kelsey Grovey led five double-figure scorers with 19 points as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane captured a 79-69 victory against the Memphis Lady Tigers Saturday afternoon in front of 908 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Tulsa got 40 points off the bench, led by Ashley Hughes' 14 points, 13 by both Kadan Brady and Teanna Reid as the Hurricane improved to 7-8 on the season and 2-2 in the American Athletic Conference. Ashley Clark added 10 points in a starting role for the Hurricane. Grovey added a team-high six rebounds and five assists, while Reid added a team-high six assists for Tulsa.
Memphis' Asianna Fuqua-Bey scored 18 points, while Ariel Hearn added 17 points as the Lady Tigers fell to 8-8 on the year and 2-3 in league play.
Tulsa connected on 24-of-28 free throws compared to just 4-of-5 for the Tigers. The Hurricane converted 12-of-14 free throws for its only points in the final 2:17 to increase its five-point of 67-62 lead to as many as 12 points at 79-67.
“The big key in the last five minutes was us making free throws. Even before they got into a position where they had to foul, we made some free throws to help give us an advantage,” said Tulsa Head Coach Matilda Mossman. “I just felt like we had to grind it out defensively. We got unlucky a few times, but I think it was just a grind by both teams. I am excited about the fact that we had five players in double figures.”
“For us rebounding is big in every game. I just think we were able to battle in the second half and not give up as many offensive rebounds. I think that was key in the first half and the reason the score was so close was because they would get second and third opportunities,” added Mossman.
The Hurricane scored 11 points in the first four minutes of the second half and sprinted out to a 43-37 lead by the first media timeout at the 15:47 mark. Memphis came out of the timeout and scored the next five points 0:32 to cut the Tulsa lead to 43-42 at 15:15 on the game clock.
Tulsa went on a 10-0 run to take a 52-42 lead after Mariah Turner knocked down two free throws with 12:34 left in the contest. Memphis kept the pressure on the Hurricane, cutting the 10-point advantage back to one-point, 56-55, at 7:59 on the clock. Tulsa scored the next five points to take a 60-55 lead, before the Tigers answered to make the score 60-58 at the 5:43 mark.
The Hurricane scored the next four points to take a 64-58 lead with 3:49 remaining in the game. Hughes second three-pointer of the game, which made the score 67-62, would prove to be Tulsa's last field goal of the game as the Hurricane finished the contest by scoring the remainder of its points on free throws for the 10-point victory.
The trey for Hughes gave the sophomore 14 points in a reserve role, two less points than her career-high 16 earlier this year.
“Ashley Hughes is a warrior. I am appreciative that she got all the attention in Connecticut, because all that attention just makes her want to go out and do well and prove herself. She is a warrior and a fighter and I am glad she is on our team,” said Mossman.
Tulsa's Erika Wakefield scored the first points of the game on a layup at the 18:49 mark, but after Memphis tied the game 0:32 later, the Lady Tigers kept built its lead to as many as seven points three times in the next four minutes.
Grovey's layup with 4:13 remaining in the first half knotted the score at 23-23 for the first time since the game was tied at 2-2. Back-to-back three-pointers by Hughes and Reid put the Hurricane ahead by six points, 29-23, at the 2:44 mark.
Memphis cut the Tulsa lead back to two points on consecutive baskets, making the score 29-27. Tulsa's Clark scored three points for Tulsa to give the Hurricane a one-point halftime lead at 32-31.
At the halftime, Memphis had shot 48-percent from the field, while Tulsa connected on 45 percent. The Lady Tigers held a 24-to-12 advantage in the paint, while the Hurricane scored 13 points off of nine Memphis turnovers.
Grovey and Clark had eight first-half points apiece to lead Tulsa, while Fuqua-Bey and Cheyenne Creighton each had eight points as well for the Lady Tigers.
Tulsa will be back at the Reynolds Center this Wednesday night, Jan. 14, to host the East Carolina Pirates in a 7:00 p.m. game.