Jan. 10, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Senior guard Olivia Grayson scored a season-high 17 points and added another Green Wave first to her résumé, but it was not enough as the Tulane University women's basketball team fell to Conference USA foe SMU, 62-56, in the league opener for both teams on Thursday evening in Devlin Fieldhouse.
Tulane scored the first eight points of the contest, held a 12-2 advantage early on and took a 27-26 lead into the locker room at halftime. SMU, however, outscored the Green Wave 36-29 after the break and shot an impressive 46.2 percent from the field in the second stanza (12-of-26) to come away with the victory.
The loss snapped Tulane's four-game winning streak as the Wave fell to 11-3 on the year and 0-1 in C-USA play. SMU, meanwhile, won its second consecutive ballgame to improve to 10-4 overall and 1-0 in league action.
"We certainly started Conference USA play with a really good team," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "I thought that was a well-played game on both parts. I commend our defense...We had a couple of fouls at the end that they converted just to get back in the game. We just had to execute better on offense. We didn't finish in the paint. We were trying to get to the free throw line more than we did. I thought we were aggressive to the basket and just didn't get the calls. It was very physical tonight. In the last three minutes, we just couldn't score."
With her point total against the Mustangs, Grayson becomes the only player in Tulane history to rank in the Top 10 in the Green Wave record book in points, rebounds, assists and steals. She connected on 7-of-12 field goals and all three of her 3-point tries, and both season bests for the local product.
Grayson added a team-best six rebounds to go with two assists and a pair of steals to her scoring tally on Thursday, and now ranks second in Tulane history with 634 assists, seventh with 216 steals, tied for ninth with 634 rebounds and 10th with 1,246 points.
"She had tremendous stats coming into the season when you think what she's been able to do as an all-around player," Stockton said of Grayson. "I think you have people who can score or can rebound or can block shots, but for someone to do all the things that she's done, that takes a special kind of player and they've got to appreciate all the other things about the game which she does. I love coaching her. She's just one of my favorite kids and it'll be a sad day when she leaves."
Grayson was one of two Green Wave players to tally double-digit scoring totals as sophomore guard Danielle Blagg added 10 points off the bench. Sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan led the team with five assists while redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins and senior wing Janique Kautsky joined Grayson with a team-high two steals.
SMU held a 38-34 rebounding edge and used 14 offensive boards to tally 16 second-chance points to the Green Wave's five following 11 rebounds off the offensive glass. The Mustangs also had 12 steals among 17 forced turnovers to post 11 fast-break points.
Following Tulane's red-hot start, SMU took its first lead at 14-13 with 8:30 to play in the first half following a pair of free throws by Keena Mays. The lead changed hands five more times the rest of the period, and that theme continued during the early portion of the second half as well.
The Green Wave broke a 40-40 tie on a three-point play by sophomore forward Tiffany Dale with 13:00 to play in regulation only to see the Mustangs answered with a 7-0 run over the next 4:59 to take a 47-43 lead they would not relinquish. Tulane rallied from a five-point deficit to tie things up at 51-all courtesy of a Bibbins layup at the 3:33 mark, but Mays scored the next four points to put SMU on top for good.
Forced to foul late to stop the clock, the Mustangs hit all six of their free throw attempts over the final 36 seconds to put the game away. Blagg converted a three-point play with 15 seconds remaining to make it 60-56 and SMU's Alisha Filmore drained a pair of freebies two seconds later to account for the final score.
"We missed some opportunities executing wise - not using our screens and things like that - but we were still right in it," Stockton added. "What was key was we had a couple of turnovers and they got a couple of offensive rebounds. That was the game. It was that close all the way, even with them shooting well. It was a one-point game or even all the way through. Those couple of things happened, we were down three and we just never could close it out.
"We lost to a good team tonight, so it's important not to overreact. I think they're very good and very physical. We started with a good team in conference and we just have to learn from that and move on. I think all of our players felt we could win that game just as easily as we lost it. That's part of the battle - for the team to know that they can change their destiny and I think we will."
Mays led SMU with a game-high 27 points after sinking 9-of-19 field goals, 2-of-7 3-point tries and 7-of-9 free throw attempts, and added eight rebounds, three steals and a team-best five assists. Filmore was next for the Mustangs offensively with 11 points while leading all players with four steals. Akil Simpson paced SMU with 11 rebounds.
The Green Wave return to action on Sunday, Jan. 13, when they travel to Huntington, W.Va., to take on Marshall at 1 p.m. (CST) at the Cam Henderson Center. From there, Tulane will play at Rice on Thursday, Jan. 17, before returning to Devlin Fieldhouse to play host ot Memphis on Sunday, Jan. 20. Tipoff for that ballgame is slated for 1 p.m.
For tickets the Tulane/Memphis contest, 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.