March 21, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's basketball team made the 600th win in program history a memorable one as the Green Wave defeated Sam Houston State, 65-57, in the opening round of the 2013 WNIT on Thursday evening in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave trailed by two at halftime and found themselves on the wrong side of a 43-40 score with 12:20 left in the contest. From there, however, Tulane went on a 13-0 run over the next 4:15 to take a 10-point lead it would not relinquish.
In victory, the Green Wave now stand 600-484 since the inception of the varsity program for the 1975-76 season and snapped a two-game losing skid as Tulane improved 23-8 on the year. The Wave advance to play Arkansas - which posted a 67-57 decision over Memphis on Thursday night - on Sunday in Fayetteville, Ark., with a tentative tip time of 2 p.m. (CDT). Sam Houston State, meanwhile, concludes its 2012-13 campaign with a record of 18-15.
"It's certainly good to get it here at home," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said of getting the program's 600th win. "Our program hasn't been around as long as a lot of other programs have been, but it's a big step for us and I'm glad to get it at home.
"I thought we played a lot better defense in the second half. We gave up so many offensive rebounds in the first half. We really did a good job of clamping down on their shooters in the second half and gave them one shot. I thought that was really key. There was a much different energy in the second half."
After hitting just 11-of-31 field goals in the first half (.355), the Green Wave connected at a .536 clip after the break (15-of-28) to finish the day at .441 (26-of-59). Defensively, Tulane held the Bearkats to a 29.6 field goal percentage (21-of-71).
Both teams pulled down 44 rebounds, and Sam Houston State turned 20 offensive boards into 12 second-chance points. The big difference in the game, however, was ball control as the Green Wave bounced back from a nine-turnover first half to give it away just six times after the break while forcing 10 second-half turnovers. The Green Wave also used a balanced offensive attack which saw 11 players light up the scoreboard.
"I think we've got a lot of players that can come in," Stockton said of her bench production. "Even putting Tierra Jones in at the end, her defensive presence really helped. We knew they were going to crash the boards really hard. She stopped that. We got great contribution from the bench, which we always do. This time of year, you know what you can expect from them and they produced."
Seniors Olivia Grayson and Janique Kautsky shared team-high scoring honors with 11 points each, and all of Grayson's tally came in the second half. Sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan rounded out Tulane's double-digit scorers with 10 points and led the Green Wave with five assists. Sophomore forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi came off the bench to pull down a team-best eight rebounds, Kautsky paced the squad with three steals and freshman center came off the bench to tally two of the team's nine blocked shots.
Tulane scored the first four points of the ballgame, but that would be the Green Wave's largest lead until late in the second half. The two teams battled to seven ties in the opening frame, and Sam Houston State got a basket by Angela Beadle with 39 seconds to go before halftime to send the Bearkats into the locker room on top, 28-26.
The slugfest continued into the second half and Sam Houston State held a three-point edge at 43-40 just under eight minutes into the final frame. Senior forward Brittany McDonald sparked the Green Wave's game-deciding run with a jumper at 12:03 mark, Ebomwonyi sandwiched a pair of baskets around a jumper by redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins, McDonald sank 1-of-2 free throws and senior guard Tyria Snow capped things off with a pair of buckets to stake Tulane to a 53-43 advantage.
During the Green Wave's offensive outburst, the Tulane defense held the Bearkats to just three field goal attempts and forced a trio of Sam Houston State turnovers to take control of the contest.
"Basically, Coach wanted us to keep them off the offensive boards," Snow said. "We had to keep them off the glass, not let (Jasmine Johnson) get into the offense and not let them have shots that are wide open where they can do whatever they want. We had to clamp down on defense and we were able to shut them down."
The Green Wave led by as many as 13 at 61-48 with 1:43 left to play. Sam Houston State refused to go away quietly and whittled the deficit down to six at 63-57 with seven seconds remaining. Kaplan nailed a pair of free throws one second later to account for the final score.
"In the first half, we came out kind of sluggish and not playing our game," Grayson added. "We were really playing into their hands because we didn't push the tempo. Coach got into us at halftime and told us that we needed to pick it up and play with more energy in the second half because we have the opportunity to play in the postseason and we were pretty much not taking advantage of it. That really got to us so we came out better in the second half."
Britni Martin led Sam Houston with 18 points while Angela Beadle and Sequeena Thomas finished with 11 and 10, respectively. Martin paced the Bearkats with five assists and shared team-high steal honors with Chanice Smith at three each, while Thomas led the team with a game-high nine rebounds.