Jan. 29, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - With an earlier-than-usual 11 a.m. tipoff due to the game being televised nationally on the Fox Sports Network, it took the Green Wave a little while to get going. Once they found their rhythm, however, the Wave made it a no-doubter as the Tulane University women's basketball team rolled past Conference USA foe Marshall, 68-52, on Sunday in Fogelman Arena.
The Thundering Herd led as many as seven at 22-15 with six minutes to play in the first half before the Green Wave went on a 16-0 run the rest of the stanza and outscored Marshall 25-9 over the first 11:48 of the second half to all but put the game out of reach. The Herd rallied with a 13-0 rally to cut the deficit to a dozen at 56-44 with 4:11 left to play, but would get no closer the rest of the way.
With the win, the Green Wave claimed their third consecutive victory to improve to 15-5 on the year and 4-3 in league play. Marshall, meanwhile, dropped its fifth straight ballgame to fall to 12-8 overall and 3-4 in league action.
"We just came out the second half and tried to continue what we did at the end of the first," junior guard Olivia Grayson said. "We came out with a lot of energy and just tried to knock them out early. We let them get back into it at the end. We got complacent and they started to fight back, but we finished the game off and came out with the win."
Grayson led all players with 18 points - 12 of which came in the second half - while chipping in with five rebounds and four assists. Junior guard Tyria Snow added 10 points, a team-leading seven assists, three steals and a trio of rebounds while junior forward Janique Kautsky scored a career-high 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to go with a pair of assists and a block. Freshman guard Danielle Blagg paced the Wave with two blocks and fellow rookie Tiffany Dale had a game-high four steals.
Tulane forced 23 turnovers while committing just 14 and turned the Marshall miscues into 23 points. The Thundering Herd finished the day connecting on 43.2 percent of their shots from the field (19-of-44) but the Green Wave defense held Marshall to a 1-for-12 performance over a 15 minutes stretch spanning both halves to help create separation on the scoreboard. Tulane, meanwhile, finished the game hitting 23-of-59 shots (.390), including a 7-for-21 showing from beyond the 3-point arc (.333). In addition, the Wave held a 37-33 rebounding advantage, including a 10-rebound effort by senior center Brett Benzio, and Tulane turned 16 offensive boards into 11 second-chance points.
"We were doing a great job on the boards," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "(Marshall) leads the conference in offensive rebounds. They weren't getting them. We were getting the rebounds, but we just weren't going down and taking good shots at the other end (early in the game). Everyone was attacking at the other end and once we started doing that, we got into a rhythm offensively."
Marshall scored the game's first points on a 3-pointer by Shay Weaver 46 seconds into the contest, and the Thundering Herd 10-5 advantage with 15:52 left to play in the first half. Tulane rallied to tie the game at 14-all on a Kaplan layup 4:40 later, and sophomore forward Brittany McDonald gave the Green Wave their first lead courtesy of a free throw on the home team's next offensive possession.
Another Weaver trey sparked an 8-0 Marshall rally to put the Herd on top 22-15 before Grayson sparked Tulane's come-back effort with a layup with 5:26 remaining in the opening stanza. Snow and Blagg followed with back-to-back layups and a Kautsky 3-pointer gave Tulane a 24-22 lead it would not relinquish. The onslaught continued with a Benzio basket and another Kautsky trey, and Grayson capped the first-half rally with a jumper just before the buzzer at the break.
The two teams traded baskets to open the second half, but Tulane held Marshall without a field goal for a span of 8:30. Suporia Dickens snapped the Thundering Herd drought with a layup just over nine minutes into the final frame and Tulane held a commanding 25-point edge at 56-31 following a Katye Magee 3-pointer with 8:12 left to play.
Marshall answered with a 13-0 run over the next 4:01, and Grayson snapped the streak with a jumper at the 4:03 mark to make it 58-44. The Thundering Herd cut the deficit to 12 three more times, but Tulane hit all eight of its free-throw opportunities down the stretch to keep Marshall at bay.
Weaver led the Herd with nine points while Jasmine Shaw and Alaya Mitchell followed with eight and seven, respectively. Mitchell paced Marshall with six assists and shared team-high rebounding honors with Erica Woods at five apiece. Leandra King headlined the Herd's defense with a pair of blocked shots.
"Marshall came out extremely aggressive at the start and we fought back," Kautsky said. "We took good shots and we didn't turn it over. We've been practicing that a lot. We took our foot off the pedal a little bit towards the end, but we pulled it out. Marshall is a very good, aggressive team."
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday, Feb. 2, when they travel to Greenville, N.C., for a C-USA showdown against East Carolina. That game is slated to tipoff at 6 p.m. (CST) and will be televised live on the CBS College Sports Network. From there, Tulane will return home to face SMU on Sunday, Feb. 5.
For tickets to that game and future Green Wave home events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office either in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com. The Ticket Office located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center on Ben Weiner Drive, is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.