Feb. 8, 2014
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The guard tandem of junior Jamie Kaplan and freshman Courtnie Latham led a balanced Green Wave offense with 14 points each as the Tulane University women's basketball team surged in the second half to defeat Conference USA newcomer UTSA, 68-54, on Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
Trailing 30-26 at halftime, the Green Wave opened the final frame with a 10-2 rally, had an 11-0 run during a 2:59 stretch and held the Roadrunners without a field goal for a span of 7:31 to pull away. Tulane's lead swelled to as many as 19 at 55-36 with 7:38 to go and UTSA could get no closer than 11 the rest of the game.
The win was the second straight victory for the Green Wave, who improved to 17-6 on the year and 8-2 in C-USA action. UTSA, meanwhile dropped its fifth-consecutive contest to fall to 11-11 overall and 2-7 in league play.
"We used our defense to create our offense a little bit in the second half," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "We had some fast-break opportunities and some layups that really gave us some confidence and helped us get back and set up our defense. That was the key. Our defense was a lot better in the second half."
After hitting just 9-of-26 field goals (.346) in the first half, Tulane connected at a .586 clip after the break (17-of-29) to finish the day with a 47.3 field goal percentage (26-of-55). The Green Wave also hit 6-of-15 shots from beyond the 3-point arc (.400) and posted a season-high 90.9 free throw percentage after sinking 10-of-11 attempts from the charity stripe.
The Tulane defense held UTSA to a 33.9 field goal percentage (19-of-56), including a .292 clip in the second half (7-of-24), and used 10 steals to force 15 Roadrunner turnovers. The Green Wave held a 10-0 advantage in fast-break points and a 38-28 edge in points in the paint.
Junior forward Tiffany Dale and freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl were two points behind Kaplan and Latham 12 points apiece, and sophomore center Chinwe Duru was next with 11. Latham paced the Green Wave with six rebounds while Dale and Duru shared team-high honors in blocked shots with three swats each. Kaplan, meanwhile, led Tulane with a game-high seven assists while both she and Vorpahl had three steals.
"We felt that Courtnie and Leslie were both helping us a lot," Stockton said. "We started Courtnie in the second half because she got her hands on a lot of balls defensively. The other thing is she was patient on offense. She took her shots when they were there. She's a very good passer and found our posts. Chinwe, when she got in in there, was going to score. We just didn't have enough people to get her the ball, and Chinwe as dominant.
"For us, it was all about ball control. It was more of us getting in there and getting the ball where we wanted to. They ran a triangle-and-two, a box-and-one, man-to-man, a two-three and a lot of things like that and you need people who can identify what they're in and see who's open. I thought the players did a good job."
UTSA scored the first three points of the game, but neither team could gain much momentum during the first half. The period featured four ties and nine lead changes, including a layup by McKenzie Adams with 1:30 to play in the stanza to stake the Roadrunners to a 25-24 advantage. Kamra King followed with a 3-pointer to put UTSA up by four and, after a Duru bucket on Tulane's final possession of the half, Alana Heard's jumper in the lane with two seconds to go before halftime gave the home team a 30-26 edge.
Trailing by four at the break, Dale and Duru sparked the Tulane come-back with layups in consecutive Green Wave possessions. King sandwiched a pair of free throws and a layup around a Kaplan 3-pointer, but her bucket with 15:41 to play in regulation would be her team's last for a while as Tulane held the Roadrunners to just two free throws for the next seven-plus minutes.
Vorpahl had seven of Tulane's points during the Wave's big run, including a pair of free throws with 10:27 to go after UTSA head coach Lubromyr Lichonczak was whistled for a technical foul. Mannasha Bell halted Tulane's 11-0 run with a single free throw in two tries, but Tulane got a 3-pointer and a jumper by junior guard Danielle Blagg to make it 51-35.
After another King free throw, Dale and Latham answered with consecutive layups to make it a 19-point affair. UTSA refused to go away quietly as Dwanisha Tate posted back-to-back 3-pointers around a Dale bucket, and converted a 3-point play on the Roadrunners' next possession to cut the deficit to 12. The home team whittled Tulane's lead to 11 on three occasions over the final four minutes, but Tulane had an answer each time to come away with the victory.
"We felt that the second-chance shots were keeping them in the game and gave them the (first-half) lead," Stockton said. "For us, we had to do a better job on the boards. That's the reason Chinwe was a good decision to start the second half. She was being very aggressive. In the first half, we were coming off of our feet and weren't very balanced. We were trying to play aggressive but weren't playing smart. In the second half, I thought we were a lot smarter."
King led three UTSA players in double figures offensively with 15 points while Bell and Adams tallied 12 and 10, respectively. Bell led all players with seven rebounds, Adams paced the Roadrunners with three blocked shots and Mathilde Hergott had four of her team's 11 assists.
Tulane returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 12, when the Green Wave travel to Boca Raton, Fla., to take on FAU. From there, the Wave will play host to FIU on Saturday, Feb 15, with tipoff slated for 2 p.m. For tickets to that game, 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).