Jan. 28, 2009
HOUSTON- Tulane junior Kevin Sims' coast-to-coast game-winning lay-up at the buzzer broke a 59-59 tie and handed the Green Wave an improbable 61-59 come-from-behind victory in front of 1,684and a national television audience on CBS College Sports at Tudor Fieldhouse.
On the final play of the game and with 5.2 seconds remaining, Sims swung wide from the right to the leftt side of the floor where junior Asim McQueen inbounded the ball to his classmate in full stride. Sims took the ball up the side past midcourt and the Rice defense stayed with the Green Wave players on each side, leaving Sims a path down the middle of the lane for a nearly uncontested lay-up. Sims banked in the shot with less than a second remaining and set of jubilation on the TU bench. The officials quickly reviewed the play before confirming the basket.
On a night where the intensity was so high both on the court and in the stands, Rice's mascot "Sammy the Owl" was ejected from the game in the second half while Tulane (9-10, 3-3 C-USA) staged a furious rally. Sophomore Kris Richard spurred the effort with 12 second half points, and the Wave overcame a 14-point halftime deficit by outscoring Rice, 33-14, over the course of the first 15:21.
Richard scored six of Tulane's first eight points of the second half and the Green Wave fought back to single digits by the 13:41 mark on a jumper by senior Daniel Puckett that pulled TU to within eight points. Tulane would get to within six points before a tip-in by Rice's Aleks Perka gave the Owls a seven-point lead with 9:55 remaining.
Perka's score proved to be Rice's final points for seven minutes as the Wave's defense dug in and held Rice (6-14, 1-5 C-USA) scoreless until Lawrence Ghoram's free throws with 2:55 remaining. By then, TU had not only tied the game, but built a five point lead and looked to be well in control heading down the final stretch.
However, Puckett was whistled for a foul on a three-point field goal attempt by Ghoram, who then went to the line and hit the front end and back end of the three shots. Ghoram would end up going to the free-throw line seven times over the next 1:20 and converted five of the attempts to tie the game at 58 apiece with 1:35 showing on the clock.
In the final minute, Rice worked for a shot but Connor Frizzelle's attempt fell short. Richard grabbed the carom and sped upcourt and was fouled on a lay-up attempt. Richard, a native of Beaumont, Texas, hit 1-of-2 attempts to give the Wave a 59-58 lead with 21-seconds remaining.
On its ensuing possession, the Owls went right to Perka, who was fouled by Tulane's Eric Vianney with 6.4 ticks remaining in the game. Perka knocked down the first free throw to tie the game. TU head coach Dave Dickerson alertly called a timeout to set up a last gasp, game-winning play and to "ice" Perka. The ploy worked as Perka missed the second shot and senior Robinson Louisme grabbed the rebound and immediately called TU's final time out and set up the game-winning play.
"This was a really great effort by our team tonight," Dickerson said. "We knew we had to change the way we played in the first half by being a different team in the second half. We had to rely on our defense because we can't outscore people, but when we defend, we rebound and turn our defensive efforts into points we are a pretty good team, and that's what we did tonight. My hat's off to Kris Richard. Without his play in the second half, and especially in the first seven minutes of the second half, there's no way we would have won the game.
"The final play was something we have worked on, and we knew if we could get the ball to Kevin Sims, our best ball handler, on the run then we would have a chance of getting him to the basket. Sometimes the defense freezes because their hesitant to make the right slides and rotations. Tonight, Kevin was able to get to the basket and it was a great win for us on the road."
Richard led all scorers with 17 points, while Sims finished with 14 points and Louisme added 11 points and a game-best seven rebounds. After allowing Rice to shoot 60.7 percent in the first half, the Wave held the Owls to a 33.3 percent effort in the final period on 6-of-18 shooting, while Tulane shot 46.4 percent in the second half. The Green Wave committed eight turnovers in the opening period, but was guilty of just one miscue during the final 20 minutes.
Perka led the Owls with 15 points, while Rodney Foster contributed 11 points and six assists before leaving the game with an injury.
Rice wasted little time taking control of the game in the first half. Following the game's first field goal by Sims, the Owls broke a 4-4 tie when Frizzelle drained the first of the Owls' four first half three-pointers and ignited a 12-3 run. Louisme's jumper snapped the run, but by that point the Wave trailed by nine points, 16-7.
TU sophomore David Booker scored to pull the Green Wave to within seven points at 11:24, but his field goal would be the last points for Tulane for the next 5:07, and the Owls took advantage of the TU drought with a 12-0 run and built a 19-point advantage, its largest lead of the first half, when Bryan Beasley canned a three-pointer at 8:16. Puckett ended Tulane's dry spell with a free throw at 6:17. Following a steal by junior Vianney, Sims knocked down a three-pointer that spurred a 13-9 Green Wave run to conclude the half. A Louisme jumper with 0:01 remaining in the half brought Tulane to within 14 points, 39-25, at the break.
Rice connected on 60.7 percent of its field goal attempts in the opening period, including 4-of-7 three-point tries for 57.1 percent, while the Green Wave struggle with a 37 percent effort from the field.