March 2, 2002
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Tulane University lost its regular season finale on Saturday evening, dropping a 67-59 decision to Saint Louis in Conference USA men's basketball action at Fogelman Arena.
With the loss, Tulane drops to the No. 12 seed in the upcoming Conference USA Tournament. The Wave will have a rematch with Saint Louis on Wednesday at the Firstar Center in Cincinnati in the opening round of the league championship. Saint Louis earns the No. 5 seed. Game time is contingent on the result of Sunday's Cincinnati-Memphis contest. If Cincinnati wins, the Green Wave will play at 9:30 p.m. (Eastern), with a Memphis win, Tulane is in action at 3:30 p.m.
Tulane (13-14, 5-11 C-USA) battled back from a 14-point second-half deficit to claw within four at 63-59 on a Nick Sinville tip-in with 50 seconds to go. Sinville's top capped a flurry of three offensive putbacks by the Wave. However, down the stretch Saint Louis' Drew Diener hit four free throws and the Wave could not convert on the offensive end.
The Wave had an outstanding effort from senior Linton Johnson (Chicago, Ill.), playing in his final game at Fogelman Arena. The lone senior on the Green Wave roster, Johnson scored a season-high 19 points and added seven rebounds. Junior Brandon Brown (Houma, La.) logged a big night with a career-high 16 rebounds to go with eight points. Junior Waitari Marsh (Chicago, Ill.) added 14 points in the loss.
A Marsh drive with 4:53 to go in the first half had knotted the score at 25, but the Wave went cold, going scoreless against the tough Billiken defense the rest of the half. Meanwhile, Saint Louis added 10 unanswered points of its own to hold a 35-25 lead at the break.
"It was a back and forth game, except for that one spurt [at the end of the first half]," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "And we really couldn't get over the hump. It was that one spurt that was the big difference in the game."
"I thought we came out and did a good job with the game plan," Finney said. "Turnovers really cost us. We wanted to dominate the glass and we did. It was the turnovers that hurt us."
Saint Louis entered the game allowing 63.1 points per game, third-best in the league. However, they only score 63.5 points per game. The majority of those points this year have come from guard Marque Perry, who averaged 15.0 points per game, the only double-figure scorer for the Billikens. The Wave held Perry to just two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
"We did a good job on Perry, but they had other guys really step," Finney said. "Fisher drove the ball and made some threes, he did a nice job."
Josh Fisher tallied 15 points with five rebounds, nine assists and six steals for Saint Louis. Chris Braun came off the bench to score 14 points.
"We gave up too many easy baskets right around the rim," Finney continued. "They were very, very physical. We're going to have to do a much better job next time."
Tickets for the Conference USA Tournament are available by calling the Tulane Box Office at 504-861-WAVE.
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