Jan. 14, 2009
NEW ORLEANS -- Sophomore Kris Richard chalked up a career-high 21 points and junior Asim McQueen chipped in a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but Tulane could not overcome a 33 percent performance from the field, including 0-for-13 from behind the three-point line, in a 61-54 Conference USA loss in front of 2,374 at Fogelman Arena.
Tulane (7-9, 1-2 C-USA) erased an 11-point deficit in the second half with a 9-2 run and held Southern Miss (10-5, 1-1 C-USA) scoreless from the field for the final 5:25. The Wave scraped its way back to within four points with 3:21 remaining with a lay-up from senior Robinson Louisme. Following a media timeout, Tulane looked to inch even closer but Richard misfired on a jumper. The Green Wave defense forced the Golden Eagles into an empty possession and TU had a second opportunity to cut the lead to one possession, but Richard's attempt once again missed its mark with 1:39 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Louisme was whistled for a foul and USM's Andre Stephens knocked down both free throws to extend the visitor's lead to six points. But the Wave's offense never got on track and the TU missed two field goal attempts inside of a minute. With time running out, Tulane was forced to foul and the Golden Eagles connected on 7-of-8 free throw attempts to keep the Green Wave from getting any closer. Tulane did manage to score six points in the final 0:30, but Southern Miss' free throws proved to be the equalizer.
Tulane cut its six-point halftime deficit to three points in the first three minutes of the second half on a lay-up by Richards and a three-point play by Louisme. However, the Golden Eagles ran off a 10-2 run over the next 3:26 to build an 11-point lead. USM continued to maintain a double-figure advantage for the next 6:31 until the Green Wave made its final run.
"The difference in the game tonight was Southern Miss' guards were able to put the ball in the basket and we struggled mightily from the perimeter on our end," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "Our shooting percentage from the three-point line was horrendous and the shooting percentage from our backcourt did not match Southern Miss' shooting percentage. We just couldn't score and that's disappointing because I thought after the Rice game we could score consistently for 40 minutes, but we just couldn't do it tonight."
Along with his 21 points, Richard swiped a career-tying five steals, while Sims dished out five assists.
But the story of the game was Tulane's inability to score the basketball, finishing the game 20-of-60 for 33.3 percent and did not hit a three-pointer in a game since going 0-for-5 against New Orleans on Dec. 31, 2005.
Jeremy Wise led three Golden Eagles with 20 points and also added seven rebounds and five assists, while Courtney Beasley and R.L. Horton each contributed 12 points apiece in a line-up that featured just seven players.
Tulane came out sluggish in the opening minutes and fell behind by eight points, 10-2, with just over four minutes gone by in the contest. Southern Miss eventually built an 11-point lead near the midway point before the Green Wave answered with a 10-2 run to pull to within three points on a three-point play from Richard at 7:58. Following several missed shots from both teams, McQueen broke free for a lay-up and Tulane trailed by a single point, 19-18, with 5:34 remaining in the opening period.
Southern Miss responded with a Beasley jumper, but the Wave offense could not come through. TU missed a pair of shots to either tie the game or take the lead on the same possession and Horton made Tulane pay when he was fouled on a made lay-up by sophomore Johnny Mayhane and he knocked down the charity shot to complete the three-point play and extended his team's lead to six points.
The two teams each scored four points in the final minutes and the Green Wave trailed 28-22 at the break.