March 7, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane basketball team will attempt to post its second straight winning season for the first time in 11 years when the Green Wave hosts East Carolina in the regular season finale at 6 p.m. this Saturday at Fogelman Arena. All TU students, faculty and staff will be admitted for free with a valid Tulane ID and will also receive $1 drinks and hot dogs. Fans may bring their ticket stubs from Saturday's TU baseball game to Fogelman Arena and receive admission for just $5. There will also be a free raffle for all attending students with a grand prize of two tickets to Jazz Fest 2008.
A win over East Carolina would guarantee Tulane (15-14, 5-10 C-USA) its second straight winning season, which has not been achieved since the 1995-96 (22-10) and 1996-97 (20-11) campaigns under Perry Clark. Tulane notched a 17-13 overall record a year ago.
This year's conference finish and seeding is very simple for the Wave. A win will give TU a ninth-place finish in league play and a ninth-place seed in next week's tournament. A loss would put Tulane in 10th place in the final standings, and hand the Wave a 10th seed in the tournament.
For the year, Tulane is averaging 66.2 points and 33.9 rebounds per game and is shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 32.7 percent from behind the three-point line and 70.2 percent from the free-throw line.
David Gomez and Kevin Sims lead the Green Wave is scoring with 14.3 and 12.2 points per game, respectively. Gomez is also the team's top rebounder with 5.8 boards per game, respectively, while Sims leads the squad in assists and steals with 3.8 and 1.3 per contest, respectively.
East Carolina (11-17, 5-10 C-USA) has literally saved the best for last with a season-best three-game win streak entering the finale at Tulane. ECU has posted consecutive wins over SMU (82-54), third-place Houston (84-83) and at Rice (75-68). Prior to its current win streak, the Pirates had posted back-to-back wins just once this season.
ECU is 1-7 overall on the road this season and 1-6 in league play. However, the Pirates picked up their first road win in their last game at Rice, which snapped a 20-game losing skid on the road dating back to last season. The conference road win was the first for ECU since a 67-64 victory at UAB on Feb. 16, 2005, or a span of 23 straight league losses away from home.
East Carolina is averaging 68.8 points and 33.2 rebounds per game, and is shooting 41.9 percent from the field, including 38.3 percent from behind the three-point line, and 69.4 percent from the foul line. Sam Henan is the lone Pirate averaging double figure scoring with 11.3 points per contest. Gabe Blair leads the club in rebounding with 6.9 boards per outing.
Saturday's game marks the ninth all-time meeting between Tulane and East Carolina, and the Green Wave leads the series, 7-1. TU has a perfect 4-0 record against East Carolina at Fogelman Arena. The Pirates joined Conference USA in 2001-02.
The finale marks the second straight year, and the third time in last four seasons (2004-05), the Green Wave has concluded the regular season at home against East Carolina. TU is 2-0 against the Pirates at home on Senior Day. Tulane is 2-0 on Senior Day under head coach Dave Dickerson and has won its last three home finales.
When Tulane hosts East Carolina this Saturday, the Green Wave's senior trio of David Gomez, Donnavan Stith and Matt Wheaton will take the floor for the final time at Fogelman Arena. The group has weathered a coaching change and Hurricane Katrina during their careers, but has produced a total of 54 victories and is on the cusp of leading Tulane to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 11 years.
Gomez is a four-year starter and letterman who has played in 116 career games and ranks among the school's career leaders in scoring (14th-1,331), rebounding (15th-598), blocked shots (4th-139), free throws (4th-366), free throw attempts (5th-510), games played (10th) and games started (7th-97). He is the 14th player in school history to register 1,000 points, 500 rebounds.
Stith is a four-year letterman who has played in 116 career games and ranks among Tulane's career leaders in blocked shots (5th-137), rebounds (16th-544), games played (10th), and he holds the school's single game record for the best free throw percentage in a single game when he hit all 14 attempts against Louisville as freshman during the 2004-05 campaign.
Wheaton is a four-year letterman and three-year starter who has played in 112 games with 73 starts. He is tied for fifth among the school's career leaders for three-point percentage (.370) and has two game-winning shots, both which happened last season.
Tulane will make the journey north to the 2008 Conference USA Tournament at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. The four-day event will begin on Wednesday, March 12 and conclude with the championship game on Saturday, March 15. Depending on its seeding, the Green Wave will open first round play on Wednesday.