Nov. 14, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - Senior forward Brett Benzio recorded her first double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Tulane University women's basketball team rolled past Louisiana-Monroe, 62-45, Monday evening at Fogelman Arena.
Benzio, who crumpled to the ground in pain late in the first half, returned to the court full go for the final 20 minutes of play and hit back-to-back layups to start the stanza and help the Green Wave pull away. With the win, Tulane improves to 2-0 for the second consecutive season. Louisiana-Monroe, meanwhile, falls to 0-2.
"We didn't do a very good job of getting her the ball in the first half, but I thought this was going to be a good game for her," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said of Benzio. "When she went down, I was really hoping she could come back. I thought she could really set the tempo for us in the second half. It was much better second half, but I would still like for us to be a little more patient on offense and just get some better shots."
Ten of Benzio's points came in the second half, when she hit 5-of-7 seven shots from the field and swatted two of her three blocked shots on the day. She was one of three Tulane players to finish with double-digit rebounds for the game as junior guard Olivia Grayson and freshman forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi had career highs with 13 and 10, respectively.
Joining Benzio in double-digit scoring was freshman forward Danielle Blagg, who had three 3-pointers among her four field goals, with 11. Grayson led the Green Wave with seven assists and four steals.
More than half of Tulane's points came in the paint (34-of-62) and the Green Wave turned 19 offensive rebounds into 18 second-chance points. The Wave's defense held Louisiana-Monroe to a 26.9 shooting percentage (18-of-67), including a .185 clip in the first half (5-of-27).
"We missed a lot of shots, so I'd like to drop those rebounds and make some more shots but 19 offensive boards is really good," Stockton said. "We've been able to stay in games when we're shooting bad just because we're getting rebounds. Also, with them shooting 27 percent, we didn't give them a whole lot of extra opportunities. There were a lot of good things, but the nice thing is we have a lot of room to grow."
Tulane scored the first six points of the game, but neither team could find its rhythm early on as the two squads combined to score just 38 points in first half. Tulane clung to a three-point, 16-13 advantage with just over four minutes to go in the stanza and scored nine of the final 10 points in the period to head into the locker room at the break on top, 24-14.
The advantage hovered between the 12-to-16 point mark during the early portion of the second half and the Green Wave appeared to have the game comfortably in hand with a 42-26 advantage with 9:12 left to go. The Warhawks used a 9-2 run the cut the deficit to single digits at 44-35 over the next 2:48 before freshman Danielle Blagg canned a 3-pointer from the right wing and the led never dipped below 13 the rest of the way.
"It was a slugging game," Stockton said. "I felt that our defense was doing a great job. We held them to 18 percent in the first half. We were taking good shots but just couldn't knock them down. I don't know if that something that being so young we're going to have these inconsistencies, but I'm glad that our defense was able to hold so that we could go in with a lead."
Larrie Williams led the Warhawks with 13 points and Marion Zollicoffer had a team-best nine rebounds. Elizabeth Torres led all players with nine assists and shared game-high steal honors with Grayson with four.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Nov. 19, when they play host to LSU at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. The game against the Tigers is the third of four straight home games for Tulane to start the 2011-12 season as the Wave will face New Orleans on Monday, Nov. 21.
For ticket information, 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, and is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.