March 12, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Senior Robinson Louisme closed out his career with team highs of 10 points and eight rebounds, but No. 4/3 Memphis held Tulane scoreless for over 13 minutes in the second half and used a 19-9 run to end the game and hand the Green Wave a 51-41 season ending loss in the Conference USA Quarterfinal Round at the FedExForum.
For the second time in the last five days, Tulane (14-17) hung with the fourth-ranked Tigers for 31 minutes, but Memphis's defense put the clamps on the Wave scoring attack by limiting TU to eight second half points over the first 15:38, and 17 for the period.
It was a tale of two Tigers that did in the Green Wave. Center Shawn Taggard scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, while freshman guard Tyreke Evans, who was held scoreless in the opening period, registered 16 second-half points to spark Memphis.
Tulane led 32-28 early in the second half after Louisme finished a play with a thunderous dunk at the 16:46 mark. However, the Wave did not score again until junior Asim McQueen hit the second of two free throws with 3:58 remaining in the game. Meanwhile, Evans scored 12 straight points and his 11th and 12th points on a pair of free throws gave Memphis an eight point lead with 8:36 remaining in the game. Evans then gave the Tigers their first double digit lead with 7:04 left with two more free throws.
Minutes later, UM's Roburt Sallie hit a long jumper to give his team a 15-point lead, its largest of the game, at the 2:35 mark. However, Tulane rallied with seven straight points for the final margin and held Memphis, the 2008 NCAA Runners-up, to its lowest scoring output of the season.
"First of all, if the game was the first one to 32, we would have won. (That was a joke)," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "We were on 32 for about 13 minutes and didn't score. We gave all we could give tonight. We played hard. We battled on the boards. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game, but we just couldn't score enough points to beat them. As you know, they are one of the best defensive teams in the country. They really clamped down on us tonight where we couldn't score. We scored a point for about 13 minutes and then had our first field goal with less than two minutes to go in the game. It is just a tough situation. I like what we did this year and the fact that we did get better at the end of the year. We gave ourselves a chance to be in the game with the fifth or third-ranked team in the country."
Louisme was the lone Wave to reach double figures, while sophomore Kris Richard added nine points and seven rebounds.
Memphis' Robert Dozier grabbed a game best 10 boards and helped the Tigers edge Tulane in the rebounding department, 33-31.
"They did a good job of contesting our shots, but we did have some good opportunities to knock shots down. They're a long, athletic team, and they made shots tough," junior guard Kevin Sims said."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that featured six ties and three lead changes. Tulane got off to a fast start in the early minutes and led for the majority of the opening period. The Green Wave trailed 6-4 when senior Daniel Puckett broke free against the Memphis press and finished the play with a two-handed dunk to tie the game. Richard followed up with a jumper on TU's next possession to give the Green Wave the lead for the next seven minutes.
The Wave out-rebounded the Tigers 16-15 in the first 20 minutes and connected on 7-of-8 free throw attempts to stay ahead of the home team. Sophomore Johnny Mayhane came off the bench and drained a three-pointer from the right side that game TU a five point, 15-10 lead at the 10:24 mark.
Following a jumper from Doneal Mack, that closed the margin to three points, Mayhane was fouled by Mack on the ensuing possession and he knocked down a pair of charity shots to extend the Wave's advantage back to five points at 17-12.
Memphis continued to ride the red-hot Taggard who finished with 15 points in the first half. He followed a Mack three-pointer with seven straight points to capture the lead for the Tigers. His two free throws with 2:05 remaining gave his team a 26-24 advantage at the break.