Linton Johnson drives to the basket against Saint Louis' Jason Edwin in the first half, Wednesday.
March 6, 2002
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Tulane University overcame a poor shooting night from the field by connecting on 22-of-27 free throws to hold off Saint Louis, 50-47, in first round action at the Conference USA men's basketball championship at the Firstar Center.
Tulane, the No. 12 seed, advances to play No. 4 Charlotte on Thursday evening at 8:30 p.m. (Central). The Green Wave's win was the only upset in the first round of action at the C-USA Tourney, it was also just the second time a 12 seed had upset a five seed in the event.
Saint Louis' Marque Perry buried a running three-pointer a fraction of a second after the buzzer, sending the Green Wave to its second C-USA Tournament victory in history.
Tulane (14-14) shot just 20.6 percent from the field, but collected 21 offensive rebounds and committed just four second-half turnovers as it came from a 13-point second half deficit to win. The victory also snapped a four-game losing streak for the Wave.
"It was a game of grit," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "We could not have shot worse than we did, but we fought for the entire 40 minutes. Brandon Spann hit some big shots down the stretch and B. Spann and Wat [Waitari Marsh] hit their free throws down the stretch."
Spann led the Green Wave with 21 points, his most since Dec. 29. He was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. The junior guard scored 15 of Tulane's 33 second-half points, including eight from the line. A tough drive in the lane by Spann with 3:30 to go gave Tulane its first lead of the second half at 41-40 with 3:30 to go. Saint Louis had held a 32-19 advantage early in the second-half.
After the Billikens (15-16) took a 44-43 lead on a Perry layup with 49 seconds to go, Tulane's Brandon Brown was fouled going to the hoop. Brown, who was held to a season-low three points, connected on both free throws with 27.2 seconds remaining. Saint Louis' Kenny Brown missed a baseline jumper on the next possession and Marsh rebounded and was fouled.
After Marsh hit the first free throw, he missed the second, but Linton Johnson tipped the offensive board to Spann, who was fouled and hit two more foul shots with 9.6 seconds remaining, making it 48-44.
However, Saint Louis battled back with Chris Braun nailing a three-pointer with 3.6 seconds to go.
Spann took the in-bounds pass and was fouled once again. However, he again buried both free throws to make it 50-49, setting up Perry's length-of-the-court run and shoot, which was a hair too late.
"I just have to thank my teammates for getting me the ball," Spann said on his perfect free-throw night. "I was just glad I was able to hit them."
Johnson posted his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Marsh added 12 points and five rebounds.
The 50 points is its least in a victory since Feb. 18, 1984, when it defeated New Orleans, 41-39. The 20.6 percent shooting from the field is the lowest in school history.
In a bizarre first half of action, Tulane jumped to a 13-1 lead as Saint Louis failed to hit a field goal until the 12:02 mark. However, following the Green Wave run, Saint Louis closed the half with a 26-4 burst to take a 27-17 halftime lead.
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