Jan. 15, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - The junior tandem of forward Tiffany Dale and point guard Jamie Kaplan scored 18 points each, but it was not enough as the Tulane University women's basketball team dropped a 69-65 decision to Conference USA foe East Carolina on Wednesday evening in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave finished the day with a solid 42.3 field goal percentage (22-of-52) and had 14 assists on their 22 made baskets. The difference in the game, however, came at the free throw line where Tulane was just 19-of-32 (.594) while the Pirates connected at a .778 clip (14-of-18). In addition, East Carolina drained seven 3-pointers to the Green Wave's two. In defeat, Tulane falls to 11-5 on the year and 2-1 in C-USA action. East Carolina, meanwhile, improves to 14-2 overall and 2-1 in league play.
"I think that was probably a great game to watch when you look at the shooting percentages," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "There wasn't a great deal of turnovers in that game. There was a lot of good basketball. The two key points for us were giving up the rebounds and the free throws we missed. Those were huge. At the end, you're trying to scatter and do some things, but those are two stats that we have been winning in and we didn't get it done tonight."
East Carolina held a 42-32 rebounding advantage, marking just the fifth time during the 2013-14 season the Green Wave lost the battle of the boards. Tulane did turn 15 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points - compared to the Pirates' 13 points off 20 offensive boards - and held a 36-28 edge in points in the paint. A big reason for that was the play of Dale in the low post where the native of Lavon, Texas, was 7-of-10 while pulling down seven rebounds and tying a career high with five blocked shots.
Dale and Kaplan were two of three Green Wave players to post double-figure scoring totals as freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl added 11 off the bench. Kaplan led Tulane with a game-high eight assists while junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi tied her career high with three steals.
"East Carolina has been a good team for the past few years, and it goes back to when they first got into the league," Stockton said. "It's certainly two good, aggressive teams playing against each other, and it's unfortunate that we just gave up some plays at the end that cost us."
Tulane got off to a good start and scored the first five points of the game. East Carolina responded with a 7-0 run and that set up the back-and-forth battle that would ensue. The two teams battled to a 33-33 tie at the break, and the Pirates opened the second half with a 6-0 run. Tulane rallied to take a two-point lead at 44-42 with 12:44 to play and later led by one at 52-51 just under five and a half minutes later. That, however, would be the team's final lead of the day.
The Wave rallied to tie the game twice over the final seven-plus minutes, but East Carolina broke a 59-all deadlock when Albria Trice converted a 3-point play at the 1:08 mark to take the lead for good. The Green Wave answered with a pair of free throws by Vorpahl on the ensuing possession only to see the Pirates' Shae Nelson bury a 3-pointer the next time down the floor to account for what proved to be the final margin.
"We just knew that they were going to be aggressive, so we called a lot of plays to try to attack the basket and get to the rim, which seemed to work," Kaplan said. "Down the stretch, we just couldn't get it done, but as a whole I'm proud of our team. We played very tough tonight. Free throws are important. I know we missed a lot tonight, but hopefully that will improve as we go on."
Trice led ECU with a game-high 29 points after hitting 9-of-18 field goals, including a 3-pointer, and all 10 of her free throw opportunities. Jada Payne added 16 points to the Pirates' cause and Kristine Mial came off the bench to chip in 13. Payne posted the game's lone double-double with 10 rebounds and led the Pirates with five assists while sharing team-high steal honors with Janesha Ebron at two apiece.
Tulane returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 18, when the Green Wave play host to C-USA rival Southern Miss at 2 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. The game against the Golden Eagles is part of a day-night double-headers as the Tulane men will square off against Rice at 7 p.m.
For tickets to those games, as well as future Green Wave Athletics events, contact the Tulane Ticket Office. The ticket office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson Jr. Center, and fans can also order tickets on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com or by calling (504) 861-WAVE (9283).