Jan. 17, 2013
HOUSTON - Senior wing Janique Kautsky led three Green Wave players in double figures with a career-high 17 points as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated Conference USA foe Rice, 69-65 on Thursday evening in Tudor Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave trailed by 10 early in the first half and the game sat deadlocked at 56-all with 7:12 left to play, but Tulane used an 8-0 over the next 3:21 to pull away. Rice refused to go away and cut the deficit to three on a Christal Porter free throw with four seconds remaining. Tulane senior guard Tyria Snow, however, hit 1-of-2 free throws late, and fellow senior guard Olivia Grayson stole then ensuing in-bounds pass to salt the game away.
With the win, Tulane improves to 13-3 on the year, 2-1 in C-USA play and remain undefeated away from home this season with a combined 7-0 showing in road and neutral-site contests. Rice, meanwhile, saw its seven-game home winning streak come to an end to fall to 9-7 overall and 1-2 in league action.
"I thought Janique played a really good game tonight," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "Defensively, she had her hands on everything. She attacked. It was kind of like the Janique we saw early in the season, and it was good to see her having that confidence."
Sophomore guard Danielle Blagg came off the bench to score 14 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, while redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins added 13. In addition to leading the team in scoring, Kautsky also paced the Green Wave with six rebounds and three steals. Senior guard Tyria Snow headlined the Tulane offense with six assists.
As a team, Tulane shot 45.6 percent from the field (26-of-47), including a 15-of-29 showing in the first half. Rice held a commanding 44-30 rebounding advantage, but the Green Wave countered with 21 points off an equal number of Owls' turnovers, outscored the home team in the paint 36-24, and a 31-2 edge in points off the bench.
In addition to Blagg's point production, Snow added seven off the bench while reserve post players Ashley Westby and Chinwe Duru combined for nine. The back-up centers were also instrumental in slowing down Rice forward Jessica Kuster, the preseason C-USA Player of the Year who entered the game averaging a double-double with averages of 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per outing.
Kuster finished the night with 15 total points, but a switch to a 2-3 zone and the inspired play of Duru and Westby helped limit the Owls' standout to seven rebounds for the game and just two points in the second half.
"One of the keys is obviously (Kuster's) offensive rebounding," Stockton said. "She scores a lot on her offensive rebounding and we gave her one offensive rebound tonight, which was really important...I think that's something we really concentrated on. We did a pretty good job with that and keeping her under a double-double was pretty important.
"I thought (Westby) and Chinwe both gave us some size in there. Westby played really well and Chinwe made a couple of good moves in there. It was good to see them make a presence. We went to a zone and when we went to that zone, just having a bigger player in there really helped us."
With the score tied midway through the final frame, Kautsky sparked the Green Wave's game-deciding run with a jumper to give Tulane a 58-56 at the 6:22 mark which they would not relinquish. Westby followed with a free throw and a jump shot, and Blagg followed with a 3-pointer to make it 64-56.
The final score could have been more lopsided, but Tulane hit just 5-of-14 free throws in the second half (.357) to allow the Owls to hang around.
"We were 12-for-23 for the game and we were No. 1 in the league in free throw shooting," Stockton added. "Ashley had four and she was 1-for-4. Danielle usually hits hers. She's in the 70 percent range. One of our goals was to get to the free throw line more because I felt we weren't aggressive enough. We did do that tonight. We just didn't capitalize on it."
Tulane scored four of the game's first six points, but Rice went on a 10-0 run to make it 12-4 and later led by double digits at 23-13 with 11:08 left to play in the opening half. The Green Wave answered with a 17-4 rally over the next 5:22 with Westby tying the game at 27-all with a layup and Blagg capping the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Tulane on top 30-27.
The Wave's lead swelled to as many as eight at 40-32 courtesy of a Grayson trey with just over a minute to go before the break, and a 3-pointer by Kuster made it a five-point contest at halftime.
Rice made it a two-point game early in the second half on a three-point play by Nakachi Maduka only to see Tulane come right back with a Bibbins layup and a Grayson 3-pointer to stretch the advantage to seven at 45-38 1:18 into the period. The Green Wave held a comfortable 54-48 lead 7:04 later, but the Owls refused to go away quietly and went on an 8-2 run to tie the game and set up Tulane's game-deciding rally.
Porter led the Owls with 17 points, followed by Kuster's 15 while Maduka and Megan Palmer finished with 13 and 11, respectively. Porter led all players with nine rebounds while Jessica Goswitz tallied a game-high seven assists. Goswitz and Maduka shared team-high steal honors with two each.
Tulane returns to action on Sunday, Jan. 20, when the Green Wave play host to C-USA foe Memphis at 1 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. For tickets to that game, 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.