Jan. 29, 2014
HOUSTON - Junior point guard Jamie Kaplan led three Green Wave players in double figures with a game-high 16 points as the Tulane University women's basketball team used a late surge to defeat Conference USA foe Rice, 62-55, on Wednesday evening in Tudor Fieldhouse.
The teams battled to a 28-all tie at halftime, sat deadlocked at 38-38 with 12:46 to play and the Green Wave held a slight, two-point advantage at 47-45 with 8:26 left to play before rattling off nine straight points over the next 4:09 to create some separation. The Owls refused to go away quietly and answered with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to four, but Tulane scored the next six points and held Rice to just one field goal over the final two minutes to come out on top.
In victory, the Green Wave run their winning streak to four and improve to 15-5 on the year and 6-1 in C-USA play. Rice, meanwhile, dropped its third consecutive contest to fall to 10-10 overall and 3-4 in league action.
"We were able to make some plays at the end," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "What I think makes our team special is that Tiffany Dale had a rough night tonight because she couldn't stay on the floor (with foul trouble), but other players stepped up for her. This was a good win for us and we should be pretty proud of it.
"I'm glad to see a lot of these games where we've been very good in the last five minutes. That's where, in the past with maybe a little less experience, we weren't as good. Now defensively, we're really clamping down in those last five minutes and we've been able to make shots. That was a big key for us tonight. It was a good win. Rice has a very good team. They're going to beat some teams in this league so we're fortunate to get out of here (victorious)."
As a team, Tulane connected on 42.1 percent of its field goals (24-of-57) while holding the Owls to a .345 clip (19-of-55). The Green Wave were called for 12 first-half fouls, which allowed Rice to go 7-of-15 from the free throw line in the opening stanza, but committed just eight infractions after the break to hold Rice to a 5-of-6 showing from the stripe. Conversely, Tulane was just 3-of-5 from the free throw line over the first 20 minutes before hitting 9-of-16 freebies in the second half.
Freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl came off the bench to finish second to Kaplan in scoring with 12 points while junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi added 10. All of Ebomwonyi's points and nine of Vorpahl's came in the second half. Ebomwonyi paced the squad with eight rebounds, Kaplan and Vorpahl shared team-high assist honors with five apiece, and the junior tandem of Dale and guard Danielle Blagg both had two steals.
"Foul trouble really dictated that first half and we felt good going in tied at the half. It was tough, but we got a lot of great play. Leslie came in and did some really good things and really attacked for us. Chinwe did a super job of coming in and doing some things. It was really a gut check and our kids came through. The person I thought played very well tonight was Adesuwa. She got a lot of tips (on defense). She got a tip at the end that we really needed and hit a couple of shots in there that were really huge for us."
Tulane raced out to an early 9-4 advantage and led by five on two other occasions in the first half. Down 22-17 with 6:43 to go before the break, Rice went on a 9-2 run over the next 3:43 to go up by a pair at 26-24. The two teams traded buckets over the next three-plus minutes and redshirt-freshman Morgan Rogers hit a free throw with 29 seconds to play before halftime tie things up as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The back-and-forth battle continued early in the second half as Tulane held a one-point lead at 41-40 with 11:55 left in regulation. The Green Wave appeared to take control of the ballgame with a 6-0 run to go up 47-40 only to see Rice answer with a 5-0 rally to make it a two-point affair at 47-45 with 8:26 to go.
From there, Tulane got single free throws by Vorpahl and Duru, a 3-pointer by Blagg and back-to-back layups by Vorpahl and Ebomwonyi to take a 56-45 lead with 4:17 on the clock. Rice came right back as Christal Porter sandwiched a pair of layups around a 3-pointer by Jessica Kuster to make it a four-point affair at 56-52 at the 2:58 mark but could get no closer.
Kuster posted a double-double to lead Rice with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Along the way, Kuster surpassed Pat Krieger's school record for career points (1,851 from 1979-82) and is now the Owls all-time leader with 1,852. Nakachi Maduka led the Owls with five assists and Maya Hawkins headlined the defense with a game-high four steals.
The Green Wave return to on Saturday, Feb. 1, when they play host to league foe UTEP at 1 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. The game against the Miners is the first of a two-game homestand for Tulane as the Wave will take on North Texas on Feb. 5.
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).