Nov. 20, 2000
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Sophomore Brandon Spann (New Orleans, La.) scored 22 of Tulane's final 33 points to lead the Green Wave to an exciting 84-80 victory over Virginia Commonwealth on Monday evening at Fogelman Arena.
Spann finished the game with a career-high 26 points, including 12-of-14 shooting from the free throw line. Senior Ledaryl Billingsley (Chicago, Ill.) recorded his second double-double in as many games with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Junior Linton Johnson (Chicago, Ill.) added 15 points and sophomore Brandon Brown (Houma, La.) notched 12 to go with six rebounds.
"I can't say enough about the effort of our guys," head coach Shawn Finney said. "They believed in what we were doing and came out after the half and played with a lot of emotion. Brandon Spann played 40 minutes and the effort he gave was tremendous."
"If we work hard and play hard, good things will happen," Spann said. "Coach Finney always tells us that and so far he has been right."
Tulane opens the season 2-0 under first-year coach Finney. Both wins have been of the come-from-behind variety. On Friday, the Wave trailed by as many as nine in the second half, before rallying to upend Nicholls State. On Monday, Tulane fell behind by 11 with 14:29 remaining in the game on a free throw by VCU's Willie Taylor. However, Johnson had back-to-back three-point plays on fast breaks to ignite a 14-0 Wave run which made it 52-49 with 12:04 remaining. Freshman Michael Harris (Washington, D.C.) added four points in the run.
VCU (1-1) regained a 58-54 advantage with a 9-2 run, but Tulane recovered behind the efforts of Spann, who scored eight points in the next two minutes as Tulane went on top 64-61. The Rams cut the lead to one, but the Wave wrapped up the victory from the foul line, scoring 12 points at the charity stripe in the final three minutes.
"We have a tremendous amount of confidence in our free throw shooting ability," Finney said. "VCU started missing shots, that's what the press does for us. We wore them down."
Freshman walk-on Justin Amick (Atlanta, Ga.) saw 18 minutes of action, tallying two rebounds, two assists and two steals, as he once again sparked the Green Wave and its fans. The 6-0 freshman played 16 minutes in the opener.
"The quality minutes that Justin Amick is giving us are a big boost to our team," Finney said.
"After being down at the half, we had to come out and play hard," Amick said. "Everyone is going to get in due to fouls or whatever, so we all have to be ready."
Tulane returns to action on Friday, playing in the Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii. The Wave meets host Hawaii-Hilo in the opening round at 11:30 p.m. (CST).