March 18, 2012
LUBBOCK, Texas - Freshman forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi came off the bench to score a career-high 19 points, but it was not enough as the Tulane University women's basketball team saw the 2011-12 season come to an end with a 69-55 loss to Texas Tech in the second round of the WNIT on Sunday afternoon at United Spirit Arena.
The Green Wave trailed by 11 at 39-28 with 16:24 left in regulation and used a 10-2 run over the next 3:54 to whittle the deficit down to three at 41-38. That, however, was as close as Tulane would get as the Wave conclude the year with a 23-11 record. Texas Tech, meanwhile, improves to 21-13 on the year and advances to the third round of the WNIT where the Lady Raiders will face the winner of today's Pacific/San Diego contest.
"This game started with a lot of hard knocks and losing Tiffany Dale really hurt us there," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "She could have gone back in, but I didn't think it was the right thing. When Brett Benzio got two quick fouls, we just lost all of our size. I thought we really fought. We kept the game to a three-, four-, or five-point game all the way up until the last five minutes. We just ran out of steam.
"I'm so proud of this team and I told them so. I said, `I don't know if I ever coached a team that achieved - and I don't know if that's a good word - as much as this group which probably should have. They've got something special. When you look at the competitiveness of a Danielle Blagg and a Jamie Kaplan and the younger kids like that, they're winners. I think our future is really, really bright."
Texas Tech held a 44-32 edge in rebounding but the Green Wave actually outscored the Lady Raiders in the paint, 28-22, and held a 14-12 advantage in second-chance points. The difference, however, came at the free throw line where Texas Tech toed the stripe 34 times with 21 makes - including a 9-of-12 showing over the final 2:15 to make the game look more lopsided than it actually was.
After allowing the Lady Raiders to connect on 46.2 percent of their shots in the first half (12-of-26), the Tulane defense held Texas Tech to a .385 clip after halftime (10-of-26) as the home team finished the day with a 42.3 field goal percentage. The Wave hit 19-of-60 field goals for the afternoon (.317) and were just 2-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc (.105).
Ebomwonyi hit eight-of-10 field goals and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the free throw line. Junior guard Tyria Snow joined Ebomwonyi in double digits with 10 points while freshman guard Danielle Blagg was next for the Wave offensively with seven. Ebomwonyi paced Tulane with seven rebounds and senior Brett Benzio added six. Snow and junior guard Olivia Grayson shared team-high assist honors with three each and Grayson led all players with a game-best three steals.
"She was great," Stockton said of Ebomwonyi. "I think Adesuwa is one of those players that has played a little inconsistently at times. If we can get her energy level up all the time, she's a tough kid to match-up against. She's got such great instincts. She moves well around the basket. She scored over those bigger players. She's a good rebounder. She is one of that group of four or five players who are going to be key for us."
Tulane got off to a good start and scored seven of the game's first 12 points. Texas Tech, however, scored the next eight to take a 13-7 lead at the 13:54 mark and never looked back. The Lady Raiders' advantage swelled to as many as nine three times in the first half and Ebomwonyi scored the final points of the frame with a put-back jumper to make it 35-28 at the break.
Texas Tech scored the first four points of the second half, but Blagg sparked the Green Wave's rally with a jumper with 15:20 left to go. From there, Grayson nailed a 3-pointer, and following a jumper by the Lady Raiders' Shauntal Nobles, Ebomwonyi scored five straight points with a pair of baskets plus an and-one free throw to make it a three-point affair.
Following a Texas Tech timeout, Lady Raiders' guard Casey Morris drained a 3-from the right wing on the ensuing possession to stake her team to a 44-38 advantage and Tulane could get no closer than four the rest of the way.
"We probably took some shots that we didn't need and we weren't able to get into our transition offense," Stockton added. "When we got that going we scored on that, but we had a lot of open looks and just couldn't knock them down. You don't really know why that is, but we still stayed in there. Our defense was scrappy, we ran a lot of different things, and we held our own on the boards until the end. I think in the last eight minutes, they really dominated us on the boards. It was a good performance.
"I'm glad we had this opportunity to play and I'm glad we played here. I told them that when we look at teams in the Big XII, that's what we want to be like. We want to be that competitive, we want to play at a high level, and I think we could today. Things just didn't go our way."
Jordan Barncastle led the Lady Raiders with a game-high 21 points after hitting 6-of-11 field goals - including a 3-pointer - and connecting on eight-of-nine free-throw opportunities. Morris was next for Texas Tech with 12 points while Kelsi Baker came off the bench to score 10.
Chynna Brown led all players with nine rebounds, Baker and Monique Smalls shared game-high assist honors with three each, and Nobles and Smalls each had two of the Lady Raiders' seven steals.