Jan. 17, 2009
DALLAS - Tulane senior Robinson Louisme led all scorers with 19 points but SMU caught fire in the second half, hitting 78.9 percent of its field goal attempts, and used a 15-4 run that proved too much for the Green Wave to overcome in a 60-51 Conference USA loss to the Mustangs in front of 2,918 at Moody Coliseum.
Tulane (7-10, 1-3 C-USA and SMU (6-9, 1-2 C-USA) were knotted at 21 apiece at halftime, but the Mustangs opened the second half with a 9-2 run and led 30-23 before junior Kevin Sims and sophomore Kris Richard nailed back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Wave to within a single point at 14:21.
However, the Mustangs delivered the knockout blow with a 15-4 run over the next 6:31 to build a 45-33 lead that concluded on a jumper by Derek Williams, who scored 10 of his team-high 17 points in the second period. Sims ended the SMU run with his second trey of the night that sliced the lead to single digits, 45-36, but the Mustangs outscored the Wave 6-2 over the next two minutes and built a 14-point lead, its largest of the game, on a three-pointer by Williams at 5:38.
Tulane did manage to pull to within eight points on a pair of free throws by Sims with 0:32 remaining, but could not get any closer.
SMU torched the nets during the final 20 minutes, hitting 15-of-19 field goal attempts, including 3-of-4 treys, for 78.9 percent, and finished 53.5 percent for the game after hitting just 33.3 percent of its looks in the first half. Meanwhile, the Green Wave shot 31 percent in the opening period and 35.5 percent in the final half for a 33.3 effort from the field for the contest.
The Mustangs' big three post players led SMU's effort on the boards and helped outrebound the Wave, 40-29. Tulane did force 23 turnovers for the game, with 13 coming on steals, while committing just 13 miscues. SMU countered with a school record 10 blocked shots, including five from Bamba Fall.
"When you can't score, teams are going to shoot a high percentage on you because you're putting a lot of pressure on your defense," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "We are not going through a situation where we can't score. Robby (Robinson) Louisme was great tonight with 19 points and nine rebounds, but we need to have a consistent camaraderie of guys playing at the same time. We just don't have enough scoring to get us through a tough stretch like the first five minutes of the second half where we're tied at halftime and it's our ball to start the second half, and all we need to do is put the ball in the basket a couple of times. But we turn it over three out of four possessions and they score. Even though we only had 13 turnovers, and they were tough turnovers, their size wore us down in the second half.
"SMU doesn't have a great record, but they are very talented with some inside players that are very good, and those guys took advantage of our size tonight. Whenever, you don't have guys putting the ball in the basket and in tune offensively then it's going to be a long night for us."
Along with his 19 points, Louisme also added a game-best nine rebounds and came up with three steals, while Sims was the only other Green Wave player to finish in double figures with 10 points.
McCoy joined Williams in double figures with 13 points.
The opening half of the first period featured runs by both teams. Tulane's Asim McQueen scored the opening basket of the contest, but SMU reeled off a 10-0 run to take a quick 10-2 advantage. The Mustangs' run was spurred by baskets from its big three post players, Mouhammad Faye, Fall and a pair of jumpers from Papa Dia.
Senior Daniel Puckett snapped the run with a jumper at the 15:15 mark and his basket ignited an 8-0 spurt for the Green Wave, which featured lay-ups from Louisme, Sims and Richard. Lousime, who scored 11 points in the opening period, buried a pair of free throws at the 9:50 mark to bring TU to within a point.
SMU extended its lead to three points on a jumper from Williams, but Louisme stole an errant pass in the open court and finished at the other end to once again pull the Wave to a single point. The Wave defense came up with a stop on the ensuing possession on a steal by Richard and the sophomore gave Tulane its second and final lead of the game with his lay-up at 6:19.
Williams, who was fouled by Sims on SMU's next possession, connected on both charity shots to regain the lead for the home team. Paul McCoy, the Mustangs leading scorer, registered his first points with a lay-up to give the Ponies a four-point advantage. But TU responded once again behind Louisme, who scored the Wave's final five points of the half, including a lay-up to tie the game at 21 apiece. Tulane and SMU each had good looks during the final minutes, but neither squad was able to score during the final 2:38, and the contest remained knotted at 21-21 at the break.