Nov. 11, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Junior point guard Jamie Kaplan tied a career high with 20 points and freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl added 14 in her first career start as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated McNeese State, 74-49, on Monday evening in Devlin Fieldhouse.
With the game tied at 37-all 2:21 into the second half, the Green Wave scored 15 unanswered points over the next 6:25 to take a commanding 52-37 lead they would not relinquish. The run helped Tulane outscore the Cowgirls 41-19 over the final 20 minutes as the Green Wave improved to 2-0 for the fourth consecutive year. McNeese State, meanwhile, fell to 1-1 on the young season.
Combined with Friday's 81-46 season-opening win over the University of New Orleans, Tulane has now posted back-to-back wins of 25-plus points to open a season for the first time in school history. The combined 50-point margin of victory in the two contests stands as the second most in program history, falling behind only the 2001-02 squad which opened that season with an 86-62 win over High Point on Nov. 16 before dismantling UPR-Mayaguez in the opening round of the San Juan Shootout, 109-39, on Nov. 23.
"I thought there were a lot of good things in the game today," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "We came out in the first half and they really made some runs on us, but we responded. We stayed in there, they got up by five and then we came back and took the lead. I felt like we got some momentum after that.
"One thing about playing a team like this is really keeping your composure. We did a great job against the press, didn't turn it over, came down and found our post players. We felt we had a size advantage. (The guards) did a great job of getting the ball inside when we could and just controlling the game. We got a nice lead, we didn't start taking any quick shots and I thought we ran our offenses really well in that last 10 minutes."
Junior forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi was the third Tulane player to post double-digit scoring totals with 10 points and led the twm with a pair of steals while chipping in with three rebounds, two assists and a block. Sophomore center Chinwe Duru led the Green Wave's with 11 rebounds and paced the squad with three blocked shots. Vorpahl headlined the Green Wave with five assists.
Fouls played a big part in the Tulane win as the Green Wave turned 26 whistles against the Cowgirls into 18 made free throws. The Wave hit 48.1 percent of their shots for the contest (25-of-52) and were 6-of-13 (.462) from beyond the 3-point arc while holding McNeese State to a 30.8 field goal percentage (20-of-65), including a .206 clip (7-of-34) in the second half.
The Green Wave held a 43-35 rebounding advantage, thanks in no small part to sophomore forward Tierra Jones and freshman guard Courtnie Latham who came off the bench to pull down eight and four boards, respectively. While Tulane forced just 13 turnovers - including six via steal - the Wave had 19 points off Cowgirl miscues and had 15 fast-break points.
"I thought we played a lot better tonight then we did on Friday," Kaplan said. "I think the team is progressing every day - even in practice we're getting better - and that showed tonight on the court. I'm glad I was able to do what I needed to do to get the win and my team definitely helped me out as well."
The game was a back-and-forth battle early on as the team traded the first 24 points before the Cowgirls used a 5-0 run to turn a 12-all tie into a 17-12 advantage with 11 minutes to play in the first half. The McNeese State lead swelled to as many as six at 24-18 just under five and a half minutes later only to see Tulane answer with a pair of Vorpahl free throws and back-to-back 3-pointers by redshirt-junior guard Katye Magee and Vorpahl to claim a 26-24 lead at the 3:35 mark. The two teams traded buckets over the next few possessions and the Green Wave scored the final three points of the stanza to take a 33-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Cowgirls rallied to tie the game twice in the early portion of the second half, but Kaplan sparked Tulane's game-changing run with a pair of free throws and a jumper to make it 41-37 with 14:39 to go in regulation. From there, Jones sandwiched a jumper and a pair of free throws around a Kaplan 3-point bucket and added a layup after a Vorpahl basket to cap the 15-0 charge.
McNeese State's Alaina Verdin halted the streak with a jumper three possessions later but the Cowgirls would get no closer than 12 the rest of the way. Holding a 59-47 lead with 7:38 on the clock, Tulane quieted any talks of a McNeese State comeback as Duru and Ebomwonyi hit layups in consecutive trips down the court, Magee followed with her second 3-pointer of the night, and Kaplan sank a pair of free throws to give the Green Wave a 21-point edge at 68-47 3:03 later.
An Amber Donnes layup made it a 19-point affair with 3:31 left to play, but that would be the Cowgirls last basket as Tulane scored the last six points of the contest to account for the final score.
"It's good to see people accepting their new roles," Stockton added. "We've got Adesuwa on the wing instead of being in the post all of the time. Chinwe Duru is playing a bigger part. I think every game that we play, our players will mature and that will help us find our identity. It's good to have these, but we've got a really tough schedule ahead of us so we're going to have to keep moving in the right direction."
Allison Baggett led McNeese State offensively with 14 points, but was held scoreless in the second half despite taking a team-high seven shots in the final stanza. Ariana James paced the Cowgirls with six rebounds, while Jayln Johnson led the way in assists and steals with four and two, respectively.
The Green Wave return to action on Tuesday, Nov. 19, when they play host to Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. For tickets to that game, as well as future Tulane 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).