Jan. 2, 2008
NEW ORLEANS -- Senior David Gomez registered a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds and junior Daniel Puckett nailed the go-ahead basket for Tulane with 1:16 remaining in the game and the Green Wave tacked on five more points in the final minute to snap a 25-year drought with a 68-63 victory over in-state rival LSU in front of 3,690 at New Orleans Arena.
In an emotional-filled contest between two rivals meeting for the 208th time since 1911, Tulane (10-4) registered its first victory over LSU (7-6) since March 12, 1982, and the win was the first for Tulane in New Orleans since Feb. 3, 1971. TU extended its win streak to a season best four straight victories, but a more impressive feat in the current times is the Wave's perfect 3-0 record against Southeastern Conference teams this season.
Tulane trailed LSU by one point, 63-62, with 2:15 remaining after Anthony Randolph nailed two free throws to give the Tigers their final lead of the game. Following a time-out, freshman Johnny Mayhane missed a jumper but Gomez found the rebound and was fouled by Marcus Thorton.
Playing in his final game against the Tigers, Gomez, who is a native of Baton Rouge, connected on his first free throw and tied the game at 63 apiece with 1:47 remaining. However, his second shot missed the mark, but Puckett tracked down the loose carom and retained possession. Puckett dribbled left toward the top of the key and then made his way into the lane where he pulled up and canned a jumper with 1:16 left in the contest and gave TU a 65-63 lead.
On its ensuing possession, LSU misfired on a jumper following a timeout and was forced to foul Puckett with 0:31 showing on the clock. Puckett connected on 1-of-2 attempts to push the Green Wave's lead to three points. But once again the Tigers couldn't find the basket following their final timeout, and senior Donnavan Stith grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
Stith, a 60 percent free throw shooter entering the game, calmly sank both attempts and finished the game 5-of-5 from the foul line. His two free throws with 14 seconds remaining sealed the Green Wave's win.
"What a great win for our basketball program and for our kids," Tulane head coach Dickerson said. "They fought for 40 minutes and we knew this would be a tough game. We thought coming into the contest that we had a team that was good enough to beat this LSU team. We hadn't beaten those guys in so long that we knew we had to do certain things to win the game.
"Our guys stepped up. David Gomez with a double-double of 19 (points) and 12 (rebounds), Donnie Stith with nine points and nine rebounds and was 5-of-5 from the free throw line and Kevin Sims played 32 minutes and had no turnovers. That's really, really good. This is a great team win for us. This is a great win for our school and area. There are some great things going on at our school right now with our basketball team and I just hope that we can continue to get the support, and support these players because this is a good basketball team."
Tulane led LSU for much of the second half and built its largest lead of eight points on a Sims three-pointer near the game's midway point. The Tigers managed a pair of one point leads down the stretch, but could not overcome TU's gritty play. One of the keys was the fact Tulane shot 45.8 percent in the second half, while limiting LSU to 37.9 percent. The Wave also prospered from the free-throw line where it hit 12-of-14 attempts in the final period, while LSU made just six trips, but did hit five attempts.
Sims joined Gomez as TU's lone players to finish in double figures with 12 points. Tulane out-rebounded the Tigers, 40-30, and held the edge in the paint, 28-26.
Terry Martin paced LSU with 19 points, while Randolph added 15 points and a team-best nine rebounds.
Gomez had the hot hand for Tulane in the first half, scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 field goal shooting, and he grabbed four rebounds. Tulane opened the game with the first four points, but LSU responded with eight straight points and led for a majority of the first half. The Green Wave stayed close and responded each time the Tigers looked to increase their lead. LSU's Bo Spencer hit 1-of-2 free throws at the 9:22 mark to give the visitors a five point lead. However, TU senior Matt Wheaton responded with a three-pointer to cut the lead to two points.
Tulane then picked up a pair of back-to-back technical fouls, and the game's momentum looked to be headed in the Tigers' favor.
The first occurred when Gomez broke free for a dunk underneath. Gomez quickly jammed the ball home and was immediately lit up for a technical foul for hanging on the rim and apparently hitting the backboard with his hand when he came down. LSU hit 1-of-2 free throws to make the score 20-17. Seconds later, Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson was handed a technical foul and the Tigers again nailed 1-of-2 free throws, and Terry Martin followed up with a three-pointer to extend LSU's lead to 24-17.
Facing its largest deficit of the game, Tulane responded with a 9-0 run that culminated when Stith was fouled on a driving lay-up, and his shot found its mark despite being fouled on the play. He then sank the charity shot to convert the three-point play and give TU a 26-24 lead with 4:06 remaining in the half.
Spencer regained the lead for LSU when he banked in a three-pointer with one second showing on the shot clock to make it, 27-26. The teams then traded baskets but the Tigers managed a 32-28 lead with 0:08 remaining. Stith inbounded the ball to Kris Richard at midcourt and Richard sent a shot toward the basket and the ball was true as the horn sounded bringing TU to within a point at the break, 32-31.
Tulane returns to action when it hosts UAB on Wednesday, January 9 at Fogelman Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.