Nov. 17, 2000
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Tulane University opened its first season under head coach Shawn Finney with an 85-73 victory over Nicholls State on Friday evening at Fogelman Arena.
The Green Wave placed five players in double figures, led by senior captain Ledaryl Billingsley (Chicago, Ill.), who matched his career-high with 22 points and added 16 rebounds. Junior Linton Johnson (Chicago, Ill.) also notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
"It's a great feeling to come out in the first game and get a win," Finney said. "Give credit to Nicholls State, they came out and played hard and pressed. We wore them down. Conditioning is a big factor for our team. I can't say enough about our guys.
"I said before the game that I thought Ledaryl, Brandon and Linton could have a double-double for us," he continued. "Those guys, night in and night out can come out and get double doubles. You want to build on wins."
The Green wave struggled in the first half, trailing by as many as eight, but a late rally cut the halftime deficit to three at 41-38.
In the second half, Tulane came together in Finney's new system. However, the key was rebounding. Tulane dominated the boards, 51-28, including an amazing 25 offensive rebounds. Billingsley had eight offensive boards while Johnson worked his own boards for seven. Sophomore Brandon Brown (Houma, La.) finished the game with eight rebounds, while adding 16 points.
"Basketball is a game of two halves," Billingsley said. "And I'm glad we had two halves tonight."
Nicholls State held a 56-48 lead with 13:54 remaining in the game, but Billingsley ignited a 15-2 run with a monster dunk from a Spann assist. The lone Green Wave senior scored seven points in that run, which made it 63-58 in favor of the Wave with 8:55 to go. The Wave did not let up. Another hoop from Billingsley opened a 12-2 run which made it 75-62 with 6:05 to go. Over that eight-minute stretch, Tulane outscored the Colonels, 27-6.
"We did not play well, especially in the first half," sophomore Brandon Spann (New Orleans, La.) said. "But when you play hard, it takes care of things.
"We don't look at it as winning ugly or winning pretty," Spann continued. "We look at it as winning."
Also scoring in double figures for the Wave were Spann with 14 points and freshman Wayne Tinsley (Fontana, Calif.), who had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Freshman walk-on Justin Amick (Atlanta, Ga.) came off the bench, to play 16 key minutes in the backcourt, sparking the team as well as the fans.
"I thought Justin Amick was a big contributor for us this game," Finney said. "He really stabilized us andgave us some key minutes."
Tulane returns to action on Monday, hosting VCU at 7 p.m. at Fogelman Arena.