Jan. 23, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - Senior David Gomez led all scorers with 18 points and the Green Wave used a 27-7 second half run over the final 10 minutes to erase a five point deficit and post a 67-52 Conference USA victory over SMU in front of 1,868 at Fogelman Arena.
Tulane (13-6, 3-2 C-USA) trailed SMU (6-11, 0-4 C-USA) by five points when Bamba Fall broke free for a two-handed dunk and his free throw following a TU foul gave the visitors a 45-40 lead with 10:17 remaining in the game. However, Falls' three-point play would be the Mustangs' final points for nearly eight minutes. By the time Fall nailed a short jumper with just 2:18 remaining, Tulane had already taken a commanding lead and put the game out of reach.
Tulane took control with its game changing run and held SMU to just seven points for the final 10 minutes of the contest.
The win was the third straight for the Green Wave and the victory evened the series with SMU 10-10. The win also marked Tulane's seventh straight home win over the Mustangs since 1976.
"I thought our team grew up in the last 10 minutes of the second half," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "We played with a sense of urgency and we made great basketball plays to win this game. It's always great to see your seniors lead the team to a much-needed victory. Donnie Stith and what he did on the defensive end was very big for us, and David Gomez's scoring and rebounding was very, very big. I never doubted that we would win the game and I knew we had the type of players that showed the toughness to win the game."
Tulane and SMU opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers, but the Mustangs reeled off back-to-back baskets to take a 34-32 lead. However, Tulane quickly countered when Gomez hit a turn-around jumper with the shot clock winding down to tie the contest.
The two teams hit a scoring drought for the next three minutes before SMU's Jon Killen hit a three-pointer to push his team ahead by three points, 37-34, with a little over 13 minutes remaining. Following a missed shot by Tulane, SMU's Alex Malone was fouled on a made lay-up and he converted the free throw for the conventional three point play, and put the Ponies up by six, 40-34.
Tulane then reeled off four straight points to pull to within two points, but Derrick Roberts and Fall sandwiched a pair of baskets and one free throw around a put-back by senior Donnavan Stith to extend the SMU lead to 45-40 at the 10:17 mark.
Stith continued his solid play when he was fouled on a jumper and ball found its mark. He then hit the free throw to pull the Wave to within two points, 45-43. Junior Daniel Puckett took a pass from Stith and out-maneuvered Fall, who stands at 7'1", and sank a short jumper to tie the game at 45 apiece. Sophomore Johnny Mayhane then hit 1-of-2 free throws following an SMU foul to give TU a 46-45 advantage, its first lead of the second half.
Sophomore Kevin Sims added to the Green Wave's lead when he knocked down two free throws and Tulane led by three points, 48-45, with over eight minutes remaining. The Green Wave defense dug in and held SMU to without a field goal for the next eight minutes. During the cold spell for the visitors, TU added to its lead via two free throws from senior Matt Wheaton and a steal and dunk from Stith, and led 52-45.
Sims gave TU its first double digit lead of the game when he connected on a trey with just over four minutes remaining. SMU misfired on its jumper on the ensuing possession, and Gomez made the Ponies pay on the other end when he was fouled on a made shot and his free throw capped the three-point play to extend the TU advantage to 58-45 with 3:53 showing on the clock and the route was on.
Gomez scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half, while Sims and Stith added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Gomez also added four blocks and grabbed two of Tulane's 10 steals, while Sims contributed four assists.
Tulane out-shot SMU, 41.8 percent to 38.5 percent, and won the battle on the boards, 36-33. Although the Green Wave managed just over 41 percent from the field for the game, TU heated up from the field in the second half with a 48 percent effort.
Fall and Killen each led SMU with 15 points apiece, while Malone tallied a game-best eight rebounds.
The opening minutes of the first half began at a snail's pace with Louisme scoring the game's lone field in the first four minutes of the contest. The scoring eventually picked up, and Tulane led 10-4 after Sims was fouled on a three-point attempt and knocked down two of three free throws. On his final attempt, he misfired but sophomore Asim McQueen corralled the miscue and banked in his first points of the game.
Trailing by six points, Fall jumpstarted a 9-0 run with his consecutive field goals that closed the gap to two points. Killen drained a three-pointer from the right corner and added a lay-up to give the Mustangs a 13-10 lead.
Gomez ended the SMU run with a turnaround jumper that brought the Green Wave to within a point, but Roberts hit a three-pointer to put his team up by four points, 16-12, at the midway point of the opening period.
The Ponies continued their hot shooting from the outside when Ryan Harp drilled a trey from the right side following a Louisme jumper to extend the lead to 19-14 in favor of the visitors.
Senior Matt Wheaton kept Tulane within striking distance with timely three-pointer that pulled the Wave to within two points, 19-17, at the six minute mark. Following a missed shot off a fast break by SMU, Gomez tied the game at 19 apiece with an emphatic two-handed dunk.
The Ponies regained a brief lead when Cameron Spencer controlled a rebound and stuck in the basket at the four minute mark. TU came back and tied the game when Gomez rebounded a missed shot and banked in the put-back.
The final three minutes saw the teams trade the lead four times. Mike Walker hit a short jumper to put SMU ahead, 27-26, with just over 30 seconds remaining.
Tulane worked for a last shot with the period winding down, but Gomez was unable to connect and the Mustangs rebounded the miss and called a time-out in an effort to add to their lead in the waning seconds. However, their effort backfired when sophomore Eric Vianney knocked away the inbounds pass. Gomez picked up with the loose ball and fired a three-pointer toward the basket as the buzzer sounded. His attempt hit the rim, rolled around and fell through to give Tulane a 29-27 advantage at the break.