Feb 2, 2002
NEW ORLEANS - Side of the rim, backboard, front of the rim, backboard, net. It was not pretty but it counted. An off-balance twisting three-pointer by Brandon Spann eventually found the bottom of the net to force overtime and Tulane University pulled away for a 66-61 victory over Southern Miss in Conference USA men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon at Fogelman Arena.
"It was not my prettiest three-pointer ever," Spann said. "Actually, I didn't even see what happened. I was on the floor and I just saw it go through the net."
Spann, who finished with a game-high 20 points, added four free throws and a baseline jumper in the overtime session as Tulane (12-8, 4-5 C-USA) outscored Southern Miss (7-12, 2-7) in the extra period.
The Golden Eagles took an early 54-52 lead on a fast-break layup by Elvin Mims (20 points), but Nick Sinville knotted the game with a pair of free throws. After back-to-back turnovers by USM, Waitari Marsh scored on a layup and Spann hit a jumper long the baseline to make it 58-54. The Golden Eagles cut it to one on two occasions, the last with 1:08 to go on a pair of Brad Richardson free throws, which made it 60-59.
A missed jumper by Marsh was rebounded by Spann on the offensive end and he was fouled. One of the top free-throw shooters in Conference USA, Spann swished the pair. The junior guard followed with another couple of free throws after a missed Southern Miss shot to make it 64-61 with 23 clicks remaining.
Southern Miss' last opportunity was an off-balance three-pointer by Mario Myles, which was off the mark and rebounded by Brandon Brown, who was fouled, and buried both foul shots to ice the victory.
The Green Wave hit all eight of its free throws in the overtime and connected on 16-of-18 foul shots in the second half and OT combined. For the game, Tulane was 80 percent (24-of-30) from the charity stripe.
"It was definitely a hard-fought win for us," Finney said. "We came out extremely flat in the first half. We got after them [the Tulane players] at halftime and they came out with more emotion."
Sinville added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Wave, while Marsh had 12 points and eight boards.
Tulane trailed 32-20 early in the first half, but the Wave built a 10-0 run to make it 32-30 with 13:27 to go in regulation. Southern Miss recovered to make it 37-34, but Sinville scored six points to spark an 11-0 Wave run, making it 45-37 with 6:49 to go.
"We made our run, then Southern Miss went to a zone and we became passive," Finney said. "We became tentative with our shots, not only were we not scoring, but time was running down."
Not only did the Southern Miss defense start clicking, but its offense rattled off 12 unanswered points to take a 49-45 lead with 1:27 to go.
Sinville scored in the paint with 1:02 on the clock and a missed jumper by the Eagles was snagged off the offensive glass by Mims, who kicked it back out. Tulane's Marsh fouled Bernard Duncan, who hit one-of-two free throws with 16 seconds to go.
Marsh knifed through the lane for a quick Wave basket, making it 50-49 with eight seconds to go. Another quick foul by Tulane led to another pair of free throws by Duncan with seven seconds in regulation, setting up Spann for his last-second shot.
Tulane's field-goal percentage of 36.4 percent (20-of-55) marks the lowest of the season for the Green Wave. The previous low of 37 percent also came in a Tulane victory, over VCU, on a buzzer-beater in November.
The win marked the 500th all-time for Tulane in Fogelman Arena. The schools' all-time mark in the 69-year old building is 500-244.
The Wave departs for Memphis tomorrow morning, dodging the chaos of Super Bowl XXXVI. Tulane faces the Tigers on Monday night at the Pyramid. That game is followed by another tough road contest on Saturday, Feb. 16 at South Florida.
Tickets for all Tulane home events are available by calling 504-861-WAVE, or by visiting the Green Wave box office at the Wilson Center.