Dec. 3, 2005
IOWA CITY, Iowa - If Andrew Garcia had just emerged from a boxing match, he would have been victorious. Though his swollen black eye hinted at boxing, basketball was his game and his Tulane team suffered an 80-68 loss to Fairfield in the consolation of the Hawkeye Challenge on Saturday evening at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Fairfield (1-4) picked up its first win of the year with near flawless basketball - a textbook zone defense and deadeye shooting. The Stags condensed zone held Tulane's leading scorer, Quincy Davis, to just three shots and six points while its offense buried 25-of-43 shots, including 9-of-17 three-pointers, and 21-of-25 free throws.
"They played zone for 40 minutes and you need to be more aggressive against a zone," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "You need to really move the ball, you need to attack it and make the extra pass. We did not do that tonight."
Tulane (1-4) was led by Garcia, who followed up Friday's career-high 14 points with another career-high, this time 18 points, to go with six assists in 31 minutes of action.
"Andrew Garcia never ceases to amaze me," Dickerson said. "He deserves everything he is getting. Since I have taken this job, he has worked his butt off. He has that football background and brings a lot of toughness. Now he just needs the mental toughness to control the tempo of the game."
"I was just trying to make things happen," Garcia said. "The only stat I'm worried about is turnovers; I need to cut down on mine. It's not my job to score, we have a lot of talented guys on this team who can score. I would rather not score at all if we could get a win instead."
Trailing 41-33 at the 15:45 mark of the second half, Garcia capped a 6-0 run with a coast-to-coast drive making it 41-39 with 12:40 on the clock. However, back-to-back turnovers led to two buckets for the Stags, pushing the deficit back to six.
After cutting it to two once again on a Gomez three-point play at 47-45 with 10:05 to go, the Wave again turned it over, then missed three straight field goal attempts and a free throw before turning it over again. Meanwhile, Fairfield hit a pair of layups, a three-pointer and an old-fashioned three-point play without missing to build the lead back to double figures at 57-46 with 5:44 remaining.
"We cut it to two, but we had a five-minute stretch where we had critical breakdowns," Garcia said. "They made a bunch of shots. We contested a lot of them, but they still made them. We had them scouted well, we knew what was coming, but we had breakdowns."
Down the stretch, the Stags were near perfect from the line, at one point hitting 12 in a row to foil the Wave's efforts at a comeback.
"We're not a good team yet," Dickerson said. "We have to continue to work hard and stay the course, but as much as it pains me to say, we're just not there yet."
After taking an 11-7 first-half lead on a Garcia three-pointer, the first of his career, Tulane saw Fairfield bury six three-pointers to key a 26-9 run which made it 33-20 with 3:04 on the clock. However, the Wave responded with nine unanswered points to close the half trailing 33-29.
"Tonight we played 30 minutes of good basketball," Dickerson said. "But we can't sustain our mental effort for 40 minutes yet. We need to take a step back and work on some things and be better on Wednesday night."
Tulane returns to action on Wednesday, hosting TCU in College Station, Texas, at Reed Arena. It is the third of four games in College Station for the Green Wave, which will return to New Orleans prior to Christmas and host Richmond at Fogelman Arena on Dec. 27.