By: Doug Ditto, contributing writer and Daniel Skrobala, contributing writer
SECU Arena hosted a morning women’s basketball tipoff in a battle between Towson and Memphis in front of a raucous crowd of local elementary school students. In the first meeting between these two teams, Memphis was able to claw its way back from a 22-point deficit in stunning fashion, winning 73-71 and handing Towson its third loss in the last four games.
“This was definitely from an atmosphere level the best environment I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Harper said. “It was fun, it was wild, our players deserve to play in atmospheres like that.”
Towson jumped out to a 6-0 lead to begin the game against Memphis. The teams then traded baskets down low with Towson holding a 12-9 lead with 4:19 remaining in the first quarter. With 2:40 remaining in the first quarter, Towson extended its lead to 18-9.
After one quarter, Towson led 26-11. Guard Kylie Kornegay-Lucas led the way with six points, three rebounds and three assists, and fellow Guard India Johnston contributed a team-high seven points off the bench.
The play of the quarter was arguably a chasedown block by Kornegay-Lucas on a Memphis layup attempt. Another layup, this one by Guard Patricia Anumgba, beat the horn to give Towson 15-point advantage heading into the second quarter.
Kornegay-Lucas continued her hot start with a fastbreak three-pointer followed by a contested layup the following possession to extend Towson’s lead to 34-14 with 7:02 remaining in the second quarter. When the next timeout was called with 3:59 remaining in the half, Towson’s score was more than double that of Memphis, leading 40-19.
Through one half, Towson held a 45-29 advantage. Kornegay-Lucas stayed on triple-double watch with 12 points, three rebounds and four assists, but it was Forward Quinzia Fulmore who was a beast in the paint in the second quarter, finishing the half with 11 points, five rebounds, and a block. The old school playstyle Fulmore utilized helped change the tempo of the game, as Towson had been playing with a fast pace for the first quarter and change.
As for Memphis, Guard Jamirah Shutes recorded a team-high 12 points. Towson moved the ball well racking up nine assists in the first half alone, just one shy of their per-game average on the season.
Memphis took advantage of a slow start to the second half for Towson and shaved the lead to single digits with a score of 49-40 with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Memphis whittled the lead down to five before Guard Skye Williams picked the pocket of a Memphis Tiger and completed the play with a fastbreak layup to give Towson a 57-50 lead with 47 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The third quarter ended with a major scoring discrepancy as compared to the first two, as Towson’s lead stood at just 57-52. Memphis’ defense was stifling; not only did it hold Towson to 12 points in the quarter, but it forced the Tigers into two late shot clock heaves within the timeframe. Shutes found herself with 17 points, and Guard Madison Griggs had 13 with five rebounds. Fortunately for Towson, Williams’ silky-smooth mid range shot helped her get up to 10 points, which is one of the main reasons Towson was able to maintain its lead.
Five quick points by Guard Eman Jefferson allowed Memphis to trim the deficit to two with 8:55 remaining before a big three-point play by Fulmore. Kornegay-Lucas missed much of the second half with foul trouble before getting disqualified with six minutes remaining. Despite not having led all game, Memphis was able to draw even with the score at 64-64 with just 4:16 remaining.
A completed three-point play by center Destiny Thomas out of the 4:16 timeout gave Memphis its first lead of the half, 67-64. Anungmba drained a huge corner three-pointer to briefly regain the lead for Towson before a tough layup drew the score even yet again and Towson head coach Laura Harper called timeout.
Guard Alexia Nelson banked in a mid range shot around the one minute mark to give Towson the lead back before Griggs responded with a mid range jumper of her own to dot things at 71.
Memphis head coach Katrina Merriweather called for time with 16.9 seconds left and a chance to run out the clock as the score was still 71 all. Shutes indeed ran out the clock before driving in for a left-handed layup–which trickled out, but Center Jada Wright was there to tip it in at the buzzer.
A brief replay review confirmed the points resulting in a two-point victory for the Memphis Tigers. Wright’s tip-in gave Memphis the win in a game in which they led for just 59 seconds. The offensive putback was symbolic of the second half as a whole, as Memphis outrebounded Towson 25-7 in that half.
Williams and Fulmore split the scoring high for Towson with 14 points apiece, and Shutes finished with a Memphis-high 19.
“You know, I’m always going to be the harshest critic of myself just from a game management standpoint,” Harper said. “Going into the fourth, maybe calling a timeout a little bit earlier–just settling them down some, but at the end of the day, we don’t decide as a team we’re going to make plays. Just, things like this are going to happen.”
Towson now has ten days off before its next game at home against UMass Lowell at noon on Dec. 23.