Feb. 21, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - Junior Kevin Sims led three Green Wave players into double figures with a game-high 19 points and sophomore Kris Richard's steal and dunk with 28-seconds remaining in the contest proved to be the difference as Tulane edged Marshall, 57-51, in Conference USA play at Fogelman Arena.
In a back-and-forth defensive affair that featured eight ties and 12 lead changes, Tulane (11-15, 5-8 C-USA) led by just a single point after Marshall's Shaquille Johnson buried two free throws with 1:22 remaining in the game to cut the deficit to 52-51.
On its ensuing possession, Tulane was unable to find a good look at the basket and Richard was forced into a desperate jumper from just inside the three-point line as the shot clock wound to zero, but his attempt missed badly, and gave Marshall the ball with 46-seconds left on the clock. Out of a Green Wave time-out, Marshall pushed the ball up the floor with a chance to tie or take the lead in the final seconds. However, Richard made amends for his missed shot by stealing the ball from the Herd's Chris Lutz and finished the play on the other end of the floor with an emphatic slam dunk.
On Marshall's following possession, Johnson quickly pulled the trigger on a three-pointer that would have tied the game, but TU senior Robinson Louisme grabbed the board and hit Richard with a quick outlet pass. Richard found freshman Trent Rogers wide-open down the left side of the lane and Rogers finished the fast break with a left-handed lay-up and all of the sudden Tulane led by five points with 12-seconds to play. Lutz missed a three-pointer on Marshall's final possession, and senior Daniel Puckett hit 1-of-2 free throws following a Herd foul to end the game.
"This is probably the best combination of halves we have put together in a long time," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "We had a lot of adversity to overcome in this game with turnovers (20), fouls (15), losing Jon Andersen to an injury in practice yesterday and Eric Vianney was unable to go today, to win a close, physical game. We had a lot going on behind the scenes with the team that was very deflating, but we pulled together as a program and our guys passed the test today with flying colors, and came away with one our biggest wins of the year."
Neither team led by more than six points in this game. Marshall led for much of the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Green Wave defense dug in and held the Thundering Herd to without a field goal for the final 2:52. Sims, who finished a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line, hit two of his charity shots with 2:15 remaining to give the Wave the lead for good.
Along with Sims, Richard and Louisme each finished with 10 points apiece and Rogers joined Sims with four assists each. Although the Green Wave attempted just 38 field goals for the game, Tulane shot better than 50-percent in each half and finished the contest with a 55.3 percent effort, and out-rebounded the Herd, 30-22.
Markel Humphrey led Marshall with 16 points, while Lutz, who finished with 37 points in the first meeting between the two teams exactly two weeks ago in Huntington, added 14 points, and Johnson contributed 13 points. Tirrell Baines grabbed a game-best nine boards.
Marshall and Tulane traded the lead in the first half, but the Thundering Herd led for most of the opening period. Lutz got off to a good start from the field with 10 points and Marshall forced the Wave into 11 first-half turnovers, and led 23-22 at the break.