Feb. 24, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Senior guard Olivia Grayson had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Tulane University women's basketball team posted a 74-59 win over Conference USA foe Tulsa on Sunday afternoon in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave held a 34-32 advantage at halftime, but came out of the gates strong with nine straight points to open the second half and never looked back. With the win, Tulane improves to 20-6 overall, 9-4 in league play and posts its fourth consecutive 20-win season. The last time the Green Wave capped a stretch of four consecutive 20-plus win seasons was 1995-96 when Tulane was wrapping up its seventh in a row. Tulsa, meanwhile, dropped its second consecutive ballgame to fall to 11-15 on the year and 6-7 in conference action.
"This is four in a row for us," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said of reaching the 20-win plateau. "When you look at Olivia Grayson and that senior class, they've had 20-win seasons their entire careers. That's not an accident. I think we've had 20-win seasons because they're very special people and they've created that.
"I thought (Grayson) played really controlled today. I felt she played very confidently. This is what you want from your seniors. We're in a situation where all of these games are really important. I thought Tyria Snow gave us some good minutes. Janique (Kautsky) hit some key baskets and defended. The seniors coming in and contributing is what you need to have at the end of the season."
As a team, the Green Wave posted a 42.6 field goal percentage after hitting 26-of-61 shots while holding Tulsa to a .356 clip overall (21-of-59). The Golden Hurricane hit 14-of-34 shots in the first half (.412), but the Tulane defense clamped down to limit the visiting squad to a 28.0 shooting percentage after halftime (7-of-25). Tulane held a commanding 45-33 rebounding advantage, turned 12 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points and turned 15 Tulsa turnovers into 12 points off miscues.
Grayson's point total was a season high while her 10 rebounds equaled a season-best. In addition, she shared team-high assist honors with sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan at four apiece. Senior wing Janique Kautsky and 10 points and a team-best three steals, and freshman center Chinwe Duru came off the bench to contribute 10 oints, seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
The Golden Hurricane were called for 19 personal fouls, and the Green Wave took advantage by sinking 18-of-23 free throws. The final margin was aided by free throws as Tulane hit 15-of-20 opportunities from the charity stripe in the second half.
"In the second half, we came out and handled it pretty well," Stockton said of Tulsa's defense. "That's how we drew the fouls. But also, I thought Chinwe Duru, Ashley Westby and Brittany McDonald - the `bigs' - came in and really helped us today. They really gave us a presence in there and we didn't give up the rebounds. They were scoring and when (Tulsa guard Taleya) Mayberry went in there, they made her shoot over them. I thought that was a good presence."
Tulsa scored the game's opening points on a layup by Ashley Clark and a see-saw battle ensued as the two teams battled to six ties and the lead changed three times. The Golden Hurricane led by as many as seven at 29-22 with 5:49 to go before the break, but Tulane used an 8-0 run over the next 2:34 to take a 30-29 lead. Tulane and Tulsa sat deadlocked at 32-all with 1:03 to play in the opening stanza, and redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins gave the Green Wave the lead for good with a jumper with 51 seconds remaining in the first half to provide the halftime score.
Sophomore guard Danielle Blagg sparked the early second-half rally with a jumper on the opening possession. From there, Kautsky nailed a 3-pointer and Grayson added a jumper and a free throw to make it 42-32. After trading the next four points, Tulsa cut the deficit to seven on a 3-pointer by Kadan Brady with 14:42 to play, but that would be the Golden Hurricane's last field goal for over five minutes. During that time, Tulane outscored Tulsa 14-7 while giving up just four free throws and holding the Golden Hurricane to just three field goal attempts while forcing a trio of turnovers.
"I thought we came out good," Stockton said of her team's early second-half surge. "We came out with some energy in that second half and were able to score right away. We got a couple of key baskets and we were aggressive. We were in the double-bonus with 10 minutes left to go in the game, and I thought that was really key. When the game got physical and we got to the free throw line, we were able to convert."
Tulane's lead swelled to as many as 21 at 67-49 on a layup by junior center Ashley Westby with 6:44 to go and again at 69-48 on a pair of Grayson free throws with 6:16 remaining on the clock. Tulsa actually outscored the Green Wave 11-5 the rest of the way, but Tulane's lead proved to be too much to overcome.
Taleya Mayberry led Tulsa with 13 points, the bulk of which came via free throws after hitting just 2-of-15 field goals, to go with a game-high five assists. Kelsee Grovey was next for the Golden Hurricane offensively with 11 points while Tiffany Couisnard paced the team with 12 rebounds and four steals.
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday, Feb. 28, when they travel to Dallas to take on league-leading SMU before closing out the home portion of the 2012-13 season on Sunday, March 3, against Southern Miss. The game against the Golden Eagles will be televised live nationally on the CBS Sports Network, and the senior class of Grayson, Kautsky, McDonald and Snow will be honored with a special ceremony.
For tickets to that game, 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.