Jan. 31, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. - It wasn't always pretty, but the final result sure was sweet for the Green Wave as the Tulane University women's basketball remained perfect away from home with a 57-55 Conference USA win over UCF on Thursday evening at UCF Arena.
The Green Wave trailed just once - by one-point 3:11 into the contest - and held a 10-point lead at 45-35 with 10:03 to play in regulation. The Knights, however, refused to go away and rallied to cut the deficit to one twice in the final four minutes to make things interesting. Redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins, who came off the bench to lead the team with 17 points and seven rebounds, blocked a potential game-tying jumper by UCF's Briahanna Jackson as the final horn sounded to clinch the victory.
With the win, Tulane improved to 15-4 on the year and 4-2 in C-USA action while remaining perfect away from home with a combined 8-0 mark in road (6-0) and neutral-site (2-0) contests. UCF, meanwhile, fell to 7-13 overall and 1-5 in league play.
"I thought sometimes, we really looked good, we ran the ball and got some easy baskets," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "Other times, we just missed some easy shots in the paint. Overall, our defense did a great job holding in those last three minutes and we were able to come out with a win."
Sophomore guard Danielle Blagg added 11 points to the Green Wave effort while sophomore forwards Tiffany Dale and Adesuwa Ebomwonyi scored nine each. Sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan had four of Tulane's eight assists on the night and senior guard Tyria Snow led the way with three steals.
As a team, the Green Wave shot 35.6 percent from the field (21-of-59) and held a 42-39 advantage in rebounds. Tulane forced 20 turnovers, including 10 via steal, and outscored the Knights 15-10 in points off turnovers. The Knights finished the night with a 38.9 field goal percentage (21-of-54), including a .444 clip in the second half (12-of-27). The game, however, came down to bench production and the Tulane reserves outscored its counterparts from UCF, 34-12.
After going ahead by double digits on a layup by Snow midway through the second half, the Green Wave hit just 2-of-11 field goals and turned the ball over five times over the next eight minutes to set up the UCF come-back attempt. The Knights, meanwhile, answered with a 15-5 run during that span to make it 50-49 with 3:53 on the clock.
A Bibbins layup at the 2:07 mark gave Tulane some breathing room, and after a free throw by UCF's Jackson, Dale connected on a pair of chances from the charity stripe to make it 54-50 with 1:16 to go. The two teams traded the next four points, and Jackson made it a one-point affair with a 3-pointer from the right corner. Dale hit 1-of-2 free throws the next time down the floor, and that would be enough for Tulane as the Knights' Andrea Hines missed a wide-open 3-point try from the left wing on the ensuing possession and Bibbins blocked the final shot of the contest to help the Green Wave escape with the win.
"They got in the paint a little bit," Stockton said of UCF's late-game surge. "Jackson got in the lane a little bit and did some great things, but we just went cold offensively. That's when we got shots and just couldn't hit them. For them, they got easy shots in the paint and got to the free throw line.
"I think you have to gain confidence when you win close games. We were in a close game with East Carolina and weren't able to pull it out. It's nice to be able to pull this one out when the game was one and two points in those last two minutes. I thought we used the clock well, we got to the free throw line and did some good things there."
Tulane scored the first points of the game on a Blagg 3-pointer before UCF scored four straight to take a 4-3 advantage. The lead would be the only one of the game for the Knights as the Green Wave went on a 7-0 run and led by as many as eight three times in the opening stanza. UCF cut the deficit to three at 24-21 with 1:53 to play before halftime, but Bibbins scored on a fast-break layup to send the Green Wave into the locker room on top by five.
The Knights' cut the deficit to a pair at 33-31 on an Erika Jones jumper 3:39 into the second half only to see Tulane respond with a 7-0 run capped by a layup plus an and-one free throw by Ebomwonyi with 13:27 remaining. UCF scored the next four points, but Snow sandwiched a free throw and a layup around an Ebomwonyi layup to set up the late-game dramatics.
Jackson was the lone player to finish in double figures for the Knights and finish with a double-double with game-high totals of 27 points and 11 rebounds to go with five steals. The rest of the team, meanwhile, accounted for a combined 28 points. Hines paced UCF with four assists.
"We would have liked to limit (Jackson) too, but she really had a fabulous night tonight," Stockton added. "I thought she looked to put the team on her shoulders and we did do a nice job with everyone else, especially their post playing coming in off a double-double. Players get hot on us and we're not able to respond. That's been a weakness for us and we have to be able to adjust."
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Feb. 2, when they travel to the Lone Star State to square off against the University of Houston with tipoff slated for 2 p.m. From there, Tulane returns 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.