Dec. 29, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - Junior Asim McQueen led three Tulane players into double figures with 14 points and the Green Wave defense held Grambling State scoreless for over nine minutes and to just two field goals during the final 13:45 of the second half en route to a 72-37 victory in the first-ever meeting between the two schools at Fogelman Arena.
Tulane (6-6) broke the game early with an 18-6 run during the final 8:45 of the first half to take a commanding double digit lead in which it would not relinquish. The Tulane offense got off to a sluggish during the first 10 minutes of the opening period and led Grambling State (2-9) by just two points, 16-14, when a McQueen steal led to a jumper by senior Daniel Puckett, and ultimately sparked the knockout punch. McQueen contributed six points during the run and the Wave led 34-20 at halftime.
Neither team shot the ball well in the first 20 minutes, but Tulane did manage a 43-percent effort from the field, including five three-pointers, while a sharp TU defense held the Tigers to six total field goals.
Grambling State was never able to slice the lead to single digits and could only get within 11 points twice during the early stages of the second half. Ibrahim Kpaka's jumper at 14:33 proved to be just one of the Tigers two field goals during the final 14:33. Tulane held the Tigers scoreless for better than nine minutes and took advantage of its opponents' drought with a 22-0 run. By the time Kpaka hit two free throws for his team's first points since his jumper earlier in the second half, the Green Wave had amassed a 32-point lead.
Kpaka hit two more free throws in the waning minutes and Jordan Lemons' lay-up with 0:47 remaining marked the Tigers' first field goal in over 13 minutes. Tulane led by as many as 37 points in the second period and chalked up its first 30-point victory since a 75-43 win over Huston-Tillotson on Dec. 5, 2007.
"This is the best we have played all year," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "We had great energy and passion and played with a lot of pride tonight after coming off a tough loss. I was a little nervous about how we would come out, but Robbie (Robinson) Louisme, Daniel Puckett and Kevin Sims did a great job of leading us the last day and half to get us ready for this game. My hat's off to Asim McQueen. If there was a game ball, he gets it. This is the best he has played since the Mobile (USA Basketball Classic) Tournament and he really did a good job for us tonight. But it was a total team effort. Twenty four assists on 28 field goals is unbelievable and holding that team to 30 percent from the field is magnificent. Our guys did a really good job tonight."
Meanwhile, the Tulane offense was clicking on all cylinders chalking up 24 assists on its 28 total field goals, while committing just 10 turnovers. The Green Wave defense grabbed 26 defensive rebounds en route to out-rebounding GSU, 39-32, forced 23 turnovers, including 12 steals, and held the Tigers to 30.8 percent from the field for the game with just a single trey.
McQueen, senior Daniel Puckett and sophomore Kris Richard combined for 21 of TU's 34 first half points, while McQueen and Richard each added six more points apiece in the second half. Richard finished the game with 12 points, and sophomore Johnny Mayhane came off the bench and scored all 10 of his points in the second period.
TU's leading scorer, junior Kevin Sims, played 14 of his 21 minutes in the first half and finished with seven assists despite sitting on the bench as a spectator during the majority of the second half with the game well in hand.
Kpaka led the Tigers with 14 points.