Updated at: 03/15/2013 7:39 PM
By JEFF LATZKE
(AP) TULSA, Okla. - Chris Crawford scored 30 points while connecting on eight 3-pointers to set new career highs in both categories for the second straight game, D.J. Stephens had 10 points and 10 rebounds after attending his grandmother’s funeral earlier in the day, and No. 20 Memphis reached the Conference USA championship by beating Tulsa 85-74 Friday night.
Crawford had three 3-pointers from the right wing during a 14-4 run that put the top-seeded Tigers (29-4) in control midway through the second half after Tulsa had erased an 11-point deficit to take the lead just after halftime.
Crawford’s third 3 during the stretch made it 61-46 with 9:57 to play, and he hit two more during a 10-0 burst later on that prevented the fifth-seeded Golden Hurricane (17-15) from making another comeback.
Senior Scottie Haralson led Tulsa with 25 points and 12 rebounds in his final game.
Crawford, who has made at least five 3-pointers in each of his last three games, went 8 for 10 from beyond the arc and tied the Conference USA tournament record for makes set by Charlotte’s Diego Guevara against UAB in 2000.
Voted as Conference USA’s Sixth Man of the Year after moving to the bench after the first 10 games of the season, Crawford has put up a new season best in scoring in three straight games and four of the last five. He was averaging 8.3 points through the first 24 games, but has 19.6 per game over the last six.
Coach Josh Pastner pulled him with less than a minute left in the game, drawing an ovation from the Memphis fans who split the crowd at the BOK Center in the Golden Hurricane’s hometown. The Tigers will face second-seeded Southern Miss in the championship game Saturday.
Crawford hit two 3s and Shaq Goodwin had a pair of tip-ins and the assist on Tarik Black’s two handed jam as Memphis charged ahead with a 12-2 run to go up 23-12 midway through the first half.
Tulsa responded from the 3-point line, with Pat Swilling Jr. connecting twice _ the second one rolling around the rim, then tilting as though it were going to bounce out before falling in _ and Haralson hitting another to finish a 15-6 run that brought Tulsa to 32-31 with 1:15 left before halftime.
James Woodard’s basket in the opening minute of the second half put the Golden Hurricane up 35-34 before Memphis zoomed right back ahead with nine straight points, highlighted by Stephens’ first of two rim-rocking, two-handed follow dunks in the second half.
Swilling had 15 points and Shaquille Harrison chipped in 13 for the Golden Hurricane, who were trying for their first win against a ranked opponent since 2003 under John Phillips.
Haralson tried to lead Tulsa back with back-to-back 3-pointers, and Brandon Swannegan’s two free throws got the Golden Hurricane to 67-59. Adonis Thomas then took advantage of Tulsa’s five-guard lineup with a third-chance putback to start Memphis’ 10-0 run that put the game away.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)