Jan. 20, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - On a day that saw the Green Wave take the court without their leading scorer, the Tulane University women's basketball team used a balanced attack to earn a 72-62 win over Conference USA foe Memphis on Sunday afternoon at Devlin Fieldhouse.
Redshirt-sophomore Whitney Bibbins sat out Sunday's contest due to illness, but Tulane got double-digit scoring performances from a season-high four players - including a season-best 14 by sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan. Tulane held what appeared to be a comfortable lead at 46-35 with 11:55 to go only to see the Tigers roar back with a 13-2 run over the next 4:24 to tie things up at 48-all. Senior forward Brittany McDonald, however, sandwiched a pair of layups around a basket by Memphis' Nicole Dickson to give the home team a two-point edge with 6:13 to play and the Green Wave outscored the upset-minded Tigers 20-12 the rest of the way.
With the win, Tulane ran its winning streak to three while improving to 14-3 on the year and 3-1 in C-USA play. Memphis, meanwhile, saw its two-game streak snapped as the Tigers fell to 11-7 overall and 2-2 in conference action.
"It still comes down to being able to get stops and transitioning off of those stops," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "When they made that run, they made some good shots. We didn't dip our head. We came back and attacked offensively. That's when we got some free throws and some easy shots. I felt our team handled that really well. Sometimes when a team makes a run on you, you're a little deflated. Our team came back and really came back stronger."
Tulane shot just 27.3 percent from the field in the first half (9-of-33) but still took a 25-24 lead into the locker room at the break. Following halftime, the Green Wave connected on 15-of-28 shot attempts (.536) and 12-of-15 free throw opportunities (.800).
Both teams pulled down 48 rebounds and Memphis used 20 offensive rebounds to outscore Tulane 13-6 in second-chance points. The Green Wave countered with 20 fast-break points and held the Tigers - C-USA's top-scoring offense at 72.5 points per game entering today's contest - to 10 points below their season average.
Dickson led Memphis with 31 points, but was the lone Tiger to reach double digits. Tulane, meanwhile, got 12 points from both sophomore guard Danielle Blagg and sophomore forward Tiffany Dale, while senior guard Olivia Grayson added 11. Blagg and Grayson both fell one rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards each, and Grayson led all players with seven assists, three blocked shots and a pair of steals.
"If it were my choice to have one person that could score 30 or a lot of people that can score 12, I would pick that because you don't rely on one person." Stockton said. "Dickson is a special player. We played a lot of zone, almost all zone tonight, and I think that gave her more looks than teams like to give her. But we felt that she alone wouldn't beat us. In the end, that's what happened."
Both teams came out cold as Tulane and Memphis combined to miss the first nine shots before senior wing Janique Kautsky converted a layup 2:24 into the game for the first basket of the day. The Green Wave's first-half lead swelled to as many as seven at 15-8 with 11:29 on the clock, but the Tigers used a 10-2 run to take an 18-17 edge with 7:43 to go before the break.
The lead was short lived as McDonald nailed a jumper and a free throw, and senior guard Tyria Snow found the bottom of the net from 12-fee out two possessions later to give the home team a 22-18 advantage. After both teams hit 3-pointers, Dickson closed out the first-half scoring with a trey of her own to make it 25-24 at halftime.
After trading baskets in the early portion of the second half, Tulane began to pull away as Grayson, Blagg and Kaplan each hit from beyond the 3-point arc to make it 43-33 with 13:32 to play. A Kaplan layup 1:37 later made it 46-35, but Memphis would score 13 of the game's next 15 points to tie the game at 48 with Dickson scoring seven points during the run.
McDonald's layup with 6:13 on the clock put Tulane ahead by a pair and Memphis would get no closer than one the rest of the way. With the home team clinging to a 56-55 lead with 4:14 left in regulation, Tulane scored 11 unanswered points as Kautsky nailed a 3-pointer while Kaplan and Dale both hit layups and a pair of free throws to put the game on ice.
"It was tough because we didn't know until this morning," Stockton said of her team taking the court without Bibbins. "She just doesn't feel well at all and doesn't feel like she could go. She's been sick for a couple of days. I felt that the team really stepped up. Whitney really rebounds well and it looked like Danielle, Tiffany and Turtle got some of those rebounds. We have a balanced team when it comes to scoring and it was good to see tonight. That's the kind of team that can win a lot of games when you have that kind of balance."
Ariel Hearn finished second in scoring for Memphis with seven points. Jaymie Jackson led all players with 10 rebounds, Hearn and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir each posted a team-high five assists, and Dickson headlined the Tigers' defense with four steals.
The Green Wave will enjoy a week off before returning to action on Sunday, Jan. 27, when they play host to East Carolina at 2 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.