Feb. 12, 2014
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Facing a Florida Atlantic team that entered Wednesday's Conference USA contest leading the league in 3-pointers per game and ranking second in points per game, the Tulane University women's basketball team used solid defense and balanced offense to post a 74-62 victory over the Owls in FAU Arena.
The Green Wave held FAU to a 36.7 field goal percentage (22-of-60) and a .286 clip from beyond the 3-point line (6-of-21) while connecting on 47.5 percent of their own shots (28-of-59) and 33.0 percent from 3-point land (6-of-18). The victory was Tulane's third in a row as the Wave improve to 18-6 on the year and 9-2 in C-USA action. The Owls, meanwhile, fell to 13-10 overall and 3-7 in C-USA play.
"They make more [3-pointers] than anybody in the league and that was one of our focuses," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "We turned the ball over too much, and we certainly didn't want to do that, but keeping them getting hot from the 3 was big because that's what has kept them in games. When you look at their conference record, it isn't very impressive but they lost by three at East Carolina, they're in every game and they've pushed everybody. We didn't want to time they were able to pull out that win.
"We executed really well on offense at times. We had that little spell where we had five minutes where we didn't score, but we kept battling. Again, I thought our kids did a good job. This is a difficult team to play. We had a couple of days to prepare and I'm really proud of how we played defense today."
Junior guard Danielle Blagg and junior forward Tiffany Dale shared team-high scoring honors with 17 points each, and the tandem combined to score 23 of Tulane's 37 points in the second half. Junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi added 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to complete a double-double.
The Green Wave's frontcourt players combined to hit 80.0 percent from the field (16-of-20), including an 8-of-10 performance by Dale and a 4-of-6 showing by Ebomwonyi. Junior point guard Jamie Kaplan led all players with seven assists and freshman guard Courtnie Latham paced the team with three steals. Dale, Latham and sophomore forward Tierra Jones each had one blocked shot to headline the defense.
"One of the things that we talked about is they're going to make 3s so don't let that bother you," Stockton said. "You just have to go back and play. We were able to get the ball to Tiffany Dale in the second half and she finished 8-for-10. Our posts hit 80 percent in there so we tried to get the ball in there as much as we could.
"I thought Adesuwa had a great game on both ends of the floor. Danielle had great energy today and she hit some big 3s for us. It was really good to see those upperclassmen do what they need to do. We were really focused this week and they did a really nice job. These were the best practices we've had in a while. Hopefully, that'll really help us go from here."
The two teams traded the first eight points of the game and Tulane held a slight 5-4 lead after Jones sank a free throw with 16:09 to play in the first half. FAU used a 9-4 run over the next 3:24 to go up 15-9 and the Owls led by as many as seven at 23-16 with 9:09 to play in the period and again at 25-18 with 8:46 to go before the break.
The Green Wave rallied to tie the score at 27-all just over three and a half minutes later and found themselves down by just a point at 31-30 with 2:17 showing on the clock. From there, Tulane closed out the first half with a 7-0 run and scored the first four points of the second half to apparently take control of the contest.
Tulane held a 48-37 advantage with 13:42 remaining in regulation into the final frame, but FAU refused to go away quietly. The Owls held the Green Wave without a field goal for a span of 4:42 and used a 12-3 rally to make it a two-point contest at 51-49 with 8:43 left to play. That, however, was as close as FAU would get the rest of the way as Dale converted a 3-point play, freshman guard Vorpahl answered a pair of free throws by the Owls' Kimberly Smith with two freebies of her own and Blagg buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to stretch the lead to 58-51.
FAU kept things interesting and trailed by just five with 4:57 to go but Tulane quieted any talks of an Owl comeback with a 10-0 run over the next 2:26 as Blagg drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and Dale hit layups in consecutive Green Wave possessions. Florida Atlantic got a free throw by Aaliyah Dotson and a layup by Takia Brooks to account for the final score.
"This is a tough team to get a big lead on," Stockton added. "They stay in it with their shooting and you're guarding the 3 so well that they put their head down, drive to the basket and try to draw a foul. I thought we did a nice job of being able to defend without fouling. In the second half, they got there a little bit but we really didn't put them on the line a whole lot.
"We did a tremendous job against their leading scorer. We had a girl who was the Player of the Week this week [in Smith, who averaged 25.0 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 51.9 from beyond the 3-point line last week]. Adesuwa guarded her most of the night, did a super job and didn't give her a lot of looks. Our goal was to try and take away the 3 and defend from there."
Brooks led the Owls with 13 points and Ashley Stevenson was next with 12 off the bench. Smith paced FAU with seven rebounds and five steals while Latavia Dempster and Sanequa Schrouder shared team-high assist honors with two dimes each.
Tulane returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 15, when the Green Wave play host to C-USA foe FIU at 2 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. 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).
TULANE TO PLAY 4KAY ON SATURDAY: The Tulane/FIU contest on Saturday will be the Green Wave's annual Play 4Kay contest as part of a cooperative effort nationwide of collegiate women's basketball coaches raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campus, in communities and beyond. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund will continue to be the official charity of the initiative. Fans attending Saturday's game are encouraged to wear pink to show their support for survivors as well as those who have lost their battle with breast cancer. Donations will be accepted for commemorative Play 4Kay t-shirts and cupcakes will be on sale with all proceeds going to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. The fund is named in honor of former North Carolina State head women's basketball coach Kay Yow, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and passed away on Jan. 24, 2009 following her third bout with the disease.