Jan. 9, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - Senior David Gomez scored a game-high 18 points and junior Robinson Louisme added 10 points, but UAB's Ed Berrios nailed three straight free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining in the game to snap Tulane's four-game win streak with a 62-61 come-from-behind victory in front of 1,810 at Fogelman Arena.
In a defensive stalemate between two of Conference USA's top scoring defense teams that featured 13 ties and 15 lead changes, Tulane (10-5) and UAB (11-5) were tied at 57-all with under a minute remaining in the game when Reggie Huffman gave his team a lead on a short jumper, but freshman Johnny Mayhane responded for Tulane on the opposite end of the floor with a three-pointer from the right corner to give the home team a 60-59 advantage with 23.3 seconds left.
Following UAB's final timeout, the Blazers mishandled the ball until it was recovered by one of their own players. However, the whistles quickly sounded because the UAB player was laying on the baseline out-of-bounds when he gained possession of the ball.
Tulane in-bounded the ball to Gomez, who was immediately fouled, and the senior hit 1-of-2 free throws to put TU ahead 61-59. On the ensuing possession, UAB's Ed Berrios attempted a last second three-pointer and was fouled by sophomore Kevin Sims. Berrios hit all three shots to win the game for UAB.
"I thought it was a good call (the foul on UAB's last second shot)," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "We're not complaining about the call. We had our chances to win this game and hats off to UAB and (Ed) Berrios. Whenever you can go to the line with 1.6 seconds and win the game with three back-to-back free throws is a hell of a job. They made all the right plays and we didn't. It is as simple as that. We missed a free throw that would have tied the situation up and would have forced over time, and we had an easy shot in front of the basket and missed that. The bottom line is we couldn't rebound the ball enough to win the game. They out-rebounded us and made all the tough plays, and we have to go back and work on that."
In the early minutes of the second half, UAB used three straight free throws to knot the score at 27-27 and then Robert Vaden broke loose for a lay-up to give the Blazers a two-point lead with just a minute and half gone by in the final period.
Louisme then tied the score once again and the teams continued to trade the lead over the next few minutes. Kinnard hit a trey from the left corner and then converted a short jumper to give the Blazers a 36-31 lead, it's largest of the game, at the 15:46 mark.
But back came the Green Wave with a pair of back-to-back baskets from Louisme, who banked at a short jumper, and Sims, who drained a three-pointer and tied the game at 36-all.
Following a long two-pointer from Berrios that pushed the visitors out to a two-point lead, the Green Wave responded with five straight points to take a 41-38 advantage with 11 minutes remaining.
UAB pulled to within a single point on two Aaron Johnson free throws, but TU seniors Donnavan Stith and Gomez each found the bucket on back-to-back possessions to extend its lead to 45-40.
However, UAB quickly responded and converted three straight possessions into six consecutive points and Tulane's lead evaporated into a one-point deficit at the 7:17 minute mark. The teams once again traded the lead before Lousime tied the contest at 49-49 on a pair of free throws.
The contest wound down into the final minutes with neither team able to gain control and pull away. Vaden hit two free throws to inch UAB out to a small lead, but Mayhane hit a timely trey to regain the advantage for the Green Wave at 54-53 with 3:13 left in the contest.
The Green Wave committed a season-low nine turnovers, but forced the Blazers into just 11 miscues, and allowed UAB to win the battle on the boards, 40-29. UAB grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, while limiting TU to just nine second chances.
Tulane, which was one of the top shooting teams in the nation from the free-throw line, managed just 64.7 percent (11-17) after coming into the contest averaging a combined 74.7 percent. The Wave did out-shoot the Blazers from the field, 41.5 percent to 38.9 percent.
Kinnard registered a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Vaden also finished with 16 points and Huffman added 11 points.
The opening minutes of the first half was a back-and-forth struggle with each team holding the lead. Wheaton opened the game the same way he ended the contest in last year's finale at UAB, with a three-pointer.
After each team traded the lead, Tulane broke the game open when freshman Mayhane drilled a three-pointer and sophomore Asim McQueen followed with a dunk on the ensuing possession to give the Wave an 18-12 advantage at the 10:58 mark.
UAB immediately responded when Vaden drilled a three-pointer and Mike Davis Jr., sandwiched a tough lay-up in between a bank shot from Wheaton. Johnson then hit 1-of-2 free throws to bring the Blazers to within two points, 20-18, at the under eight-minute media timeout.
Kinnard then evened the score with a pair of free throws, but Kris Richard gave the Green Wave some breathing room with a three-pointer on the following possession. Tulane had a chance to increase it advantage but misfired on two straight fast breaks. Meanwhile UAB inched closer and closed to within a single point, 23-22, on a Howard Crawford put-back.
Following a rebound and score from Stith, both teams went nearly three minutes without a score. Stith broke the drought when he hit 1-of-2 free throw attempts to give TU a 26-22 lead with under two minutes remaining.
With a little over a minute left on the clock, Gomez hit 1-of-2 free throws for a 27-22 advantage, but Kinnard nailed a turnaround jumper in the waning seconds from just outside the lane to slice the deficit to 27-24 and TU took its three-point lead into the break.
Tulane was forced to play a majority of the first half without Sims and Louimse, two of its three leading scorers, because of foul trouble.