Jan. 27, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Freshman center Chinwe Duru came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points and sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan posted her second-consecutive double-digit scoring contest with 10, but it was not enough as the Tulane University women's basketball team dropped a 55-52 decision to Conference USA foe East Carolina on Sunday afternoon in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half to hold a 25-21 advantage at the break and led by as many as six at 33-27 with 13:46 to play in regulation. The Pirates, however, fought back to tie the score three times in the second half and went ahead for good on a 3-pointer by Whitny Edwards with 2:41 to play. Tulane had its opportunities late, but could get no closer than one the rest of the way.
In defeat, the Green Wave saw their winning streak snapped at three to fall to 14-4 overall and 3-2 in C-USA play. East Carolina, meanwhile, earned its first win over Tulane since posting a 76-68 decision on Feb. 17, 2007, to improve to 13-5 on the year and 3-2 in league action.
"It was probably the most physical game we've had this season," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "East Carolina gave up 110 more free throws to their opponent than they shoot, so we knew that was going to be a stat. We felt that we needed to get to the free throw line. Obviously in the first half, we wanted to go more than 12 times but we were 11-for-12. In the second half, they're just not going to give you those wide-open shots and they're going to ride you. We got (to the free throw line), but we didn't capitalize on them like we should have."
Tulane held East Carolina to a .317 clip from the field (20-of-63), had 43 rebounds to the Pirates' 40, and went to the free throw line a season-high 33 times. After hitting 11-of-12 freebies in the first half, however, the Green Wave were just 13-of-21 from the charity stripe after halftime.
The Wave's 52 points was the lowest offensive output of the season and the 55 points allowed were the fewest in a loss since dropping a 54-49 decision at SMU last Feb. 26. The team also posted a season low 31.1 field goal percentage (14-of-45) and Tulane's 14 baskets were the fewest since hitting 14-of-59 in a 56-51 win at East Carolina on Feb. 13, 2010. In addition, Tulane was also held without a 3-pointer (0-for-3) for the first time since last year's 50-47 overtime win against Rice on Feb. 16, 2012.
"We got offensive rebounds, but we didn't always finish those," Stockton said. "They switch on a lot of screens and we got some mismatches. I thought Chinwe really took advantage of a lot of those. She did a nice job. Some things we really executed. They got too many offensive rebounds. I would like to see us do a better job there. When you hold a team to 31 percent, you need to win."
Sophomore guard Danielle Blagg led Tulane with nine rebounds, which tied a career high, and senior wing Janique Kautsky led the Wave with two steals. Senior guard Tyria Snow, who came off the bench to finish with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and a 3-of-5 showing from the free throw line, paced the Green Wave with a pair of assists.
Edwards' go-ahead 3-pointer was East Carolina's final bucket of the ballgame as Tulane held the Pirates to an 0-for-4 performance over the final two-plus minutes of the contest. ECU's held a 51-47 lead with 1:21 to play on a Britny Edwards free throw and Tulane cut the deficit to one as Kautsky and Kaplan combined for three free throws to make it 51-50 with 29 second remaining.
The two teams traded the next four points as East Carolina's Kyani White hit two freebies and Kaplan answered with a layup the next time down the court. Tulane had a chance to potentially take the lead as the ensuing in-bounds pass got away from Tatiana Chapple to give the Green Wave new life. Kaplan's layup attempt, however, was off the mark and White put the game away with a pair of free throws with five seconds on the clock to account for the final score.
"It's not like their 3s were tremendously effective the whole game," Stockton added, as the Pirates were 3-of-24 from 3-point land on Sunday. "(Edwards') 3 out there really killed us. It wasn't like they were really looking for a 3 and they hit it right behind the dribble weave. That was a tough thing to recover from. We were right in it until then. And again, we had some free throws in the last four minutes that really would have helped us a lot."
Tulane scored the first points of the ballgame in a layup by sophomore forward Tiffany Dale before East Carolina scored 12 of the next 14 points to race out to a 12-4 lead. The Pirates' advantage swelled to 10 at 19-9 on a Kristine Mial trey with 9:36 to play in the opening half, but Tulane outscored the visitors from Greenville, N.C., 16-2 the rest of the period to go into the locker room on top by four.
A back-and-forth slugfest ensued early in the second half and Duru gave the Green Wave their biggest lead of the night with a pair of free throws with 13:46 to make it 33-27. East Carolina, meanwhile, rallied to tie the game at 36-all at the 7:54 mark, at 38-38 just under a minute later and again at 45-all with 3:09 remaining to set up Whitny Edwards' game-deciding 3-pointer.
"I think we're playing well," Stockton said. "I think they made shots down the stretch to beat us. I don't think we're playing bad. We shot bad today. I don't think it's all broken. I thought our Memphis game was probably our best game of the year and that was just a week ago. I don't think you try and fix something that's not broken. We just have to take a look, learn from this and move on."
Celeste Stewart led East Carolina with a game-high 14 points and Britny Edwards posted the game's only double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Chanel Green paced the Pirates with a pair of assists while White had four of ECU's 11 steals.
Tulane returns to action on Thursday, Jan. 31, when the Green Wave travel to Orlando, Fla., to take on UCF. From there, the Wave will head to the Lone Star State for a Feb. 2 showdown at Houston before returning to Devlin Fieldhouse on Feb. 7 when they play host to UTEP.
For tickets 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.