Feb. 2, 2008
KATY, TEXAS - Sophomore Kevin Sims led three Green Wave into double figures with a season-high 22 points and Tulane used an 18-7 second half run to break open a tight game and post its fifth straight win with an 84-77 victory over Rice at the Merrell Center.
Tulane (15-6, 5-2 C-USA) led Rice (3-17, 0-7 C-USA) by just a single point, 42-41, early in the second half when senior David Gomez followed a missed shot with a put-back that sparked a 9-0 run, and eventually led to the 18-7 spurt that proved to be too much for the Owls to overcome.
Sims gave TU its first double digit lead, 53-43, at the 11:58 mark and the Green Wave maintained its double figure advantage for the majority of the final 10 minutes. Tulane built a 14 point lead when Sims came up with a steal and finished on the other end with an uncontested lay-up at 5:40.
A majority of the Wave's points during its second half surge came from sophomore Asim McQueen who tallied 12 of his career high 15 points in the second period, which included a pair of dunks. McQueen's second dunk, which came off a long pass from junior Daniel Puckett, gave the Wave its largest lead of the game, 80-64, with 2:57 play.
Rice closed the contest with a 13-4 run to close the gap, but ran out of time, and Tulane chalked up its fifth straight win, the longest for the Green Wave since the 1999-2000 campaign.
Sims hit 4-of-6 field goal attempts, but more importantly knocked down 13-of-16 free throws and added five assists and three steals. McQueen, who played just 16 minutes, nailed all seven field goals and contributed four rebounds in the win. Gomez, TU's leading scorer on the year, matched McQueen with 15 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Tulane shot better than 50 percent in each half, including 68.2 percent in the second half, and finished the contest hitting 59.1 percent.
Tulane and Rice battled through a tight first half with each team trading baskets for the majority of the period. Patrick Britton jump started the Owls with six points during a 9-4 run to open the game. The Green Wave fought back and tied the game at 10 apiece on two Gomez free throws.
Tulane eventually built a four-point, 14-10, lead, but Rice responded with an 11-2 spurt and led 21-16 on a bank shot by Suleiman Braimoh. However, TU once again responded and this time it was a 7-1 run that culminated in sophomore McQueen's first career three-pointer that put the visitors up by a point at 23-22.
From there, the teams traded the lead, which happen seven times in the open period, and Lawrence Ghoram tied the contest at 30-30 on two free throws with less than three minutes remaining.
Gomez and Sims led a late Green Wave rally as the duo combined for eight points in a 9-3 run to end the half, and Tulane took a 39-33 lead into intermission. The first half also featured a combined 29 free throw attempts and five ties.
Rodney Foster led three Owl players into double figures with a game-best 24 points, while Britton and Ghoram added 17 and 16 points, respectively.