Junior Kevin Sims (pictured) and sophomore Kris Sims each led the Wave with 17 points in Tulane's victory over McNeese State on Saturday night.
Nov. 15, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane junior Kevin Sims and sophomore Kris Richard each scored 17 points and senior Robinson Louisme added 11 points to lead the Green Wave to a 68-62 victory over McNeese State in the season opener for both teams at Fogelman Arena.
In the first-ever game between these two Louisiana schools located just two hours apart, Tulane (1-0) and McNeese State (0-1) went back-and-forth for 40 minutes with neither team able a build a double-digit lead. The Green Wave appeared to be pulling away when sophomore Johnny Mayhane jumpstarted a 10-5 run early in the second half. However, the Cowboys rode the sharpshooting of Stephan Martin and Patrick Richard to scrape back into contention. Martin scored five consecutive points during an 8-2 run and Patrick Richard's three-pointer at 8:24 brought the visitors from Lake Charles to within three points, 44-41.
The Wave answered with a trey of its own from senior Daniel Puckett to extend its lead to six points and eventually pushed its advantage to eight points on several occasions, but the scrappy McNeese State team continued to chip away and would not let Tulane off the hook. With TU leading 53-45 at the 5:34 mark, Diego Kaplan caught fire with back-to-back three-pointers that trimmed the deficit to four points.
McNeese State was whistled for a pair fouls on consecutive possessions and freshman Kendall Timmons and Louisme each hit their two free charity shots to give the Wave another eight point lead. Martin brought the Cowboys to within six points and looked to have an opportunity to get even closer following a Kris Richard turnover, but Richard came right back and stole the ball from Kaplan and finished the play with a two-handed dunk.
Heading into the final minute, the Green Wave led by six points, but a dunk by Elbryan Neal kept the Cowboys close. Tulane converted five of seven free throw attempts down the stretch, including two by Sims with 0:07 remaining, that iced the first win of the season for the Wave.
"This team is shaping up to have some good traits and one of those is fighting back from adversity and we did that tonight," Dickerson said. "It was a dog fight for 40 minutes and we finally got it together, especially at the end to win the game. I can't say enough about Kris Richard and Kevin Sims. They were very, very big down the stretch."
Richard and Sims tied McNeese State's John Pichon for game-high scoring honors, and Richard also added a team-best seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in 33 minutes of action. Tulane shot 44.2 percent from the field, while limiting the Cowboys to 37.5 percent for the game, including a smothering 19.2 percent in the first half.
Along with Pichon, who also added 10 rebounds for a double-double, Kaplan was the only other Cowboy in double figures with 14 points, while P.J. Alawoya contributed a game-best 11 rebounds in helping McNeese State outrebound the Wave, 43-34.
Although Tulane held McNeese State to just a 20-percent effort from the field, the Green Wave had shooting woes of its own and led just 21-19 at the break. Sims and Louisme led TU with six points apiece and Tulane scored 16 of its 21 points in the paint. The equalizer in the opening period was turnovers, as both teams combined for 19 miscues.
The Cowboys stayed in the game in the opening 20 minutes using an 8-of-17 effort from the free-throw line, while Tulane was just 3-of-5. The Wave led the majority of the first half, but never by more than four points.
Tulane improves to 3-1 in season openers under fourth-year head coach Dave Dickerson and is now 60-12 all-time in season openers on its home floor.
The Green Wave returns to action on Tuesday, November 18 against at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.