Jan. 7, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - The Green Wave defense posted a school-record 24 steals and held next-door neighbor Loyola without a field goal for the first 10:12 of the second half as the Tulane University women's basketball team wrapped up the non-conference portion of the 2012-13 season with an 81-41 victory over the Wolfpack on Monday evening in Devlin Fieldhouse.
After taking a 43-26 lead into the locker room at halftime, the Green Wave outscored Loyola 20-4 over the first half of the final stanza with all four of the Pack's points coming via free throws. The win was the fourth in a row for Tulane, which improved to 11-2 on the year. The Green Wave open Conference USA play on Thursday when they close out a six-game homestand against SMU at 7 p.m.
"It's been a while since we've played so it's good to have a game under our belt," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "I thought we did some good things, especially in the second half. The intensity was very good defensively and the defense really created our offense in the second half.
"The message this week has really been to use this game to make us more consistent going into conference play because all of the games count. There's not a game that you're going to play that you're not going to regret later if you don't win it. We start off with the tough part of our (conference schedule). SMU is a very, very good team and we're going to have to play well. They shoot the ball very well. We're not going to be able to miss on our rotations. We really challenged ourselves more defensively tonight than offensively to correct the mistakes that we've made."
Tulane's theft total was two more than the previous mark of 22 set against UNC-Greensboro on Dec. 28, 2002. The steals helped the Green Wave hold a 33-6 advantage in points off turnovers and an 18-0 edge in fast-break points. Tulane's 81 points were a season high and the most by the team since defeating the University of New Orleans, 86-39, last Nov. 21.
As a team, the Green Wave shot 47.1 percent from the field (32-of-68), including a 18-for-35 performance in the first half (.514). Loyola converted at a 34.0 clip (16-of-47) overall, but the disparity in the second half was large as the Wolfpack hit just 5-of-23 shots (.217) after halftime.
Twenty of Tulane's 41 rebounds came off the offensive glass to help the Wave post 19 second-chance points and the team's size advantage led to a 50-16 margin in points in the paint. In addition, Tulane had a season-best 26 assists, which is tied for the seventh-most in the school's single-game record book.
"I thought we were just more aggressive (in the second half)," Stockton said. "We were more aggressive on the ball, we took some things away and it was one shot and they were done. We created quite a few turnovers and we were able to start our fast break off of that."
All 12 players to take the court for the Green Wave on Monday scored at least two points and redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins led the way with 12 to go with three rebounds, a pair of assists and a steal. Sophomore forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and senior post Brittany McDonald were next offensively with 10 points each off the bench while sophomore guard Danielle Blagg added nine.
Sophomore guard Tiffany Dale, who had eight points of her own, led the team with seven rebounds to go with three blocks and a theft, sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan tied a career high with seven assists and senior guard Tyria Snow led the record-setting steals effort with four.
"When we put five players on the floor as starters, they're not necessarily always our best players," Stockton commented on her bench players, which combined for 49 points, 21 rebounds, 13 steals, 10 assists and seven blocked shots. "Our bench has played great all year. I thought Brittany McDonald had a great game today and added a lot of leadership to it. It was good to see her play with such confidence."
Loyola scored the game's opening basket on a layup by Shayne Charles, but that would be the lone lead of the night for the Wolfpack as Tulane answered with an 8-0 run to take a six-point lead it would not relinquish. The Pack hung tough for a while and kept it a seven-point affair at 29-22 when Janeicia Neely nailed a jumper with 5:25 left to play in the first half.
Tulane outscored the visiting squad 14-4 the rest of the period and put the game away with its staunch defensive effort in the second half. Loyola's first basket of the final frame did not come until the 9:48 mark when Charles sank a jump shot. By that point, however, the Green Wave held a commanding 63-32 lead.
The Tulane advantage swelled to as many as 43 points at 78-35 with 4:03 to go and Westby accounted for the final tally with a pair of free throws inside the final minute of play.
Charles was the lone Loyola player to tally a double-figure scoring total against the Green Wave and led the Wolfpack with 12 points. Neely was next with nine while Callie McNally came off the bench to score six. Jasmine Brewer and Megan Berner shared team-high rebounding honors with four each, Neely paced the squad with four assists and Berner led the defense with a pair of steals.
For tickets Thursday's C-USA opener against SMU games, as well as future Green Wave events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.