Feb. 26, 2012
DALLAS - The guard tandem of junior Olivia Grayson and freshman Jamie Kaplan scored 13 points each, and senior center Brett Benzio pulled down 10 rebounds, but it was not enough as the Tulane University women's basketball team fell to Conference USA foe, 54-49, on Sunday afternoon in Moody Coliseum.
The Green Wave never trailed in the first half and led by as many as nine just under three minutes into the second. The Mustangs, however, rallied to take a 40-38 advantage with 6:21 left in regulation and never trailed again. The loss was Tulane's third in a row as the Wave fall to 19-9 overall and 8-7 in C-USA play. SMU, meanwhile, snapped a six-game losing streak to improve to 13-15 on the year and 6-9 in league action.
"I thought we did some good things defensively, we just struggled to score," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "Going in at halftime, we had a three-point lead and we were shooting 20 percent. In the second half, we just had so many droughts and couldn't score. That became the story of the game.
"You're still looking at a team that's playing five freshmen and there are so many people who haven't been in this position. I don't know if it's the pressure getting to us or just inconsistency because of our lack of experience. Either way, we know we can be good. We know we can get together and be good. We just have to be ready to play in the tournament."
As a team, Tulane connected on 37.5 percent of its shots from the field (18-of-48), including a 13-for-24 showing in the second half (.542). The difference in the game, however, was turnovers and offensive rebounds. The Wave turned it over 18 times, which directly led to 19 SMU points, and the 15 of the Mustangs' 37 rebounds came off the offensive glass, which led to 13 second-chance points.
Grayson and Kaplan were the lone Green Wave players to finish with double-digit scoring totals while freshman forward Tiffany Dale posted eight points and rookie guard Danielle Blagg scored seven. Junior guard Tyria Snow led Tulane with five assists and a pair of steals.
Taking the court with an 18-15 lead to start the second half, Tulane got off to a red-hot start in the final frame as the Green Wave hit their first four shots to go on top 26-17 with 17:04 left to play. SMU answered with a 10-0 run over the next 3:06 to claim a 27-26 advantage, but Tulane answered with a 3-pointer by Blagg, a free throw by rookie forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and a layup by Kaplan to go back ahead 32-27 with 11:48 on the clock.
The two teams traded the next eight points and SMU cut the deficit to one twice before Krystal Johnson nailed a trey to stake SMU to its first lead of the day at 40-38 with 6:21 to go. A Grayson jumper tied the contest, but SMU scored eight of the next 10 points over a span of 1:42 to go on top to stay. The Mustangs' lead swelled to as many as eight on a Johnson free throw to make it 52-44 with 1:09 remaining in regulation and the closest Tulane would get the rest of the way was five.
Tulane scored the first three points of the game and never trailed in the first half. The Green Wave led by as many as five during the opening stanza and the visiting team went into the locker room at the break on top by three at 18-15. Despite holding the lead, Tulane scored just two points over the final 6:54 and missed its nine final field goal attempts going back to a Blagg fast-break jumper with 7:46 to play before halftime.
That would be a familiar theme late in the game as Tulane went scoreless from the 3:54 mark until 46.4 seconds remained when Kaplan drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut the deficit to 52.47. During that span, Tulane attempted just two shots, turned the ball over three times and committed three fouls. SMU took advantage of its trips to the charity striping, converting 5-of-8 free throws over the final three-plus minutes.
Alisha Filmore was the lone SMU player to finish in double digits and led the Mustangs with 12 points. Ten of the 12 players to take the court for the home team, however, had at least two points, including eight by Johnson and six each by Christine Elliott and Akil Simpson. Simpson paced the Mustangs with a game-high 13 rebounds and joined Sabrina McKinney and Brittney Hardy atop SMU's assist leaders with two apiece. Hardy and Kristin Askew each had three of the home team's 13 steals.
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday, March 1, when they close out the regular season against league rival Houston at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. The contest against the Cougars will be Tulane's annual "Senior Day" and a special ceremony will be held prior to tipoff honoring its lone four-year letterwinner, Benzio.
For tickets to that game and future Green Wave home events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office either in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com. The Ticket Office located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center on Ben Weiner Drive, is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.