Nov. 16, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - When the folks at Nike penned their "It's not how you start, it's how you finish" advertising campaign last February, they must have had the 2010-11 Tulane University women's basketball team in mind.
After falling behind by as many as nine midway through the first half and hitting just three of their first 19 shots from the field, the Green Wave rebounded to defeat Mississippi State, 62-42, Tuesday evening in Fogelman Arena. With the win, Tulane improves to 2-0 for the second consecutive season. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, fall to 1-1.
"This is a huge win and is a big confidence booster," senior forward Brittany Lindsey said. "It just lets us know the type of players and the type of teams that we can play against. The team as a whole just stepped up tonight and played a really good game."
Senior forward Tiffany Aidoo led all players with 18 points after hitting 7-of-16 shots from the field, including a 4-of-9 performance from beyond the 3-point arc. She was one of four Tulane players to post double-digit scoring totals on the night as Lindsey had 13, senior point guard Roshaunda Barnes had 11 and freshman wing Whitney Bibbins added 10.
Lindsey and Bibbins both had double-doubles with 10 and 11 rebounds, respectively, while Barnes and sophomore guard Olivia Grayson each had four of the Green Wave's 16 assists. Barnes paced the Tulane defense with three steals and junior center Brett Benzio - who did not play in the second half after banging her right elbow on the court diving after a loose ball - had two of the team's six blocks.
Defense keyed the win over the Bulldogs - who came into the game garnering votes in the most recent ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 and are coming off a 2009-10 season which saw them advance to the Sweet 16 - as Tulane scored 20 points off 21 turnovers and out-rebounded Mississippi State, 48-40.
"I think any time you have some success in a game against a quality opponent, you feel better about it," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "(The team is) developing that chemistry and they're developing that trust. I think our identity has to be defense first for us. We've got good scorers, we just don't have a lot of depth. We're going to have to stop some teams. This is good for us. I think this is a good win and hopefully this will make us better."
While Tulane struggled to hit baskets early on, the Wave bounced back to convert 44.2 percent of their shots the rest of the way (19-of-43). In addition, Tulane made 21 trips to the free-throw line and held the Bulldogs to just two shots from the charity stripe.
Mississippi State led 20-13with 7:33 remaining in the opening stanza, but a Benzio free throw sparked a 15-8 Tulane run the rest of the half to give the Green Wave a 28-23 advantage at the break. The two teams traded baskets to start the second half and the Bulldogs cut the deficit to one at 31-30 on a Porsha Porter 3-pointer less than two minutes into the frame. From there, however, Lindsey, Bibbins and Aidoo hit consecutive layups before Grayson drained a 3-pointer to push the lead to 10 and the route was on.
Tulane led 42-32 with 11:19 left to play and the Green Wave halted any talk of a Mississippi State comeback with a 13-1 rally - which Aidoo capped with her final 3-pointer of the night - over the next 6:11 to stretch the lead to 22 at 55-33. The closest the Bulldogs would get from there was 18 on two occasions, and freshman forward Laura Stokes capped the scoring with a jumper in the lane with 16 seconds on the clock.
"It was good to see (Aidoo) just relax a little bit," Stockton said. "In the first game, she was a little tighter offensively. Tonight, she just let those 3s go and she looked like the Tiffany from last year. That was good to see."
Diamber Johnson was the lone Mississippi State player to hit double figures, leading the team with 14 points, while Ashley Brown paced the squad with 10 rebounds. Johnson, Mary Kathryn Govero, Katia May and Brittany Young each had two assists. Govero led the team with three steals and Judith Tabala posted a game-high three blocks.
Tulane held Mississippi State to a 29.5 shooter percentage (18-of-61), including an 8-for-34 performance in the second half (.235).
"Tulane is a very good basketball team and you have to give them credit," Mississippi State head coach Sharon Fannin-Otis said. "They have some great experience coming back and they play exceptionally hard. They play harder as the game goes on and they play well together. We got frustrated but that was due to how they played us. I have to give credit to them. They put it to us and hopefully we'll learn from this and get better for the next basketball game."
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, Nov. 20, when they head to Nacogdoches, Texas, to take on Stephen F. Austin. Tipoff for that ballgame is scheduled for 7 p.m. From there, Tulane will play at LSU on Nov. 23 and at the Colliers International Classic in Berkeley, Calif., from Nov. 27-28, where the Wave will face Portland State in the opener before squaring off against either host Cal or Cal State Fullerton in the championship or consolation contests.
Tulane's next home game will be on Friday, Dec. 3, when the Green Wave open play in the Big Easy Classic against St. Joseph's at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena.
Season tickets for the 2010-11 Tulane women's basketball season can currently be purchased through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Floor seats are $100 each while reserved and general admission tickets go for $85 and $50, respectively. In addition, Green Wave fans can purchase a Family 4-Pack (two adult, two youth tickets) for $150. Tulane faculty and staff can purchase season tickets at all levels for half price.
The Tulane Athletics Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at (504) 861-WAVE (9283) via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.