Jan. 10, 2001
NEW ORLEANS, La. - A last second three-pointer by junior Linton Johnson (Chicago, Ill.) was off the mark and Tulane University fell, 87-84, in overtime to the University of Louisville in Conference USA men's basketball action on Wednesday evening at the New Orleans Arena.
Louisville (5-10, 1-1 C-USA) used a three-point play from Erik Brown with 39 seconds remaining to take an 86-84 lead. After a pair of misses by Tulane (7-7, 0-2) in the paint, Louisville's Reece Gaines (game-high 28 points) hit one of two free throws to make it 87-84 with 16 seconds to go. Tight Louisville defense forced a timeout by Tulane, but the Green Wave found Johnson for an open look at the top of the key, but his three was off the mark.
"We drew up a play and we had a good look," Tulane head coach Shawn Finney said. "Basically you can't get a better look than he had with no time on the clock. He was open, that's the shot we wanted."
Johnson was outstanding for the Wave, matching his career-high with 22 points and adding eight rebounds, five assists, and six blocked shots. Senior Ledaryl Billingsley (Chicago, Ill.) scored a career-high 26 points, while sophomore Brandon Spann (New Orleans, La.) scored 13 points and six assists.
"We scrapped and we got lucky," Louisville coach Denny Crum said. "Mohammed had some great plays. I think if we could eliminate half of our bad shots, we'll do fine."
Louisville shot 44.1 percent from the field for the game, while Tulane was at 48.2 percent. The Green Wave was victimized by just 56.1 percent shooting (23-of-41) from the free throw stripe.
"Free throws have been our nemesis all year," Finney said. "We've got to be able to make free throws. Ledaryl made some big ones down the stretch once he got his confidence."
"I thought they hit a couple of tough shots down the stretch, both in regulation and in overtime," Billingsley said. "And we missed a couple of chip shots."
Tulane had controlled the entire game, however, Louisville's Marques Maybin scored seven straight points to knot the game at 64 with 4:48 to go in regulation. The Wave held the lead until 1:12 remained, when Gaines banked home a three, giving Louisville their first lead of the game at 74-73. Billingsley knotted the game with a free throw and the Wave turned away a final Louisville effort. Spann had a chance to win it at the buzzer in regulation, but his trey was off the mark.
The Green Wave opened the game hot, nailing its first six shots, including the first career three-pointer from Billingsley, as Tulane built a 14-2 advantage just 3:30 into the contest. However, the Wave faltered late in the first half, allowing the Cardinals to climb back into the game. Louisville closed the half with a 15-9 run, cutting the Wave advantage to 40-35 at the break.
"The best part of this game for us is when we had some adversity, when they made their runs, we found an answer," Finney said. "There's a lot we can take from it. It's a growing experience. It's just hard to see right now."
Tulane is back in action on Saturday, traveling to Tampa, Fla., for a C-USA meeting with South Florida. The Wave plays at Mississippi State next Wednesday.