Sophomore center Chinwe Duru had as career-high 18 points in helping head coach Lisa Stockton get her 400th win at Tulane during Friday's 55-50 victory at UNC-Wilmington.
Nov. 22, 2013
WILMINGTON, N.C. - As Tulane University head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton began her 20th season at the helm of the program for the 2013-14 season, members of the Green Wave pondered what they could give their leader as a token of their appreciation.
At the end of the day - actually at the end of the first four games on the schedule - the team presented her something money could not by as the Green Wave defeated UNC-Wilmington, 55-50, on Friday evening at Trask Coliseum to give Stockton her 400th win at Tulane. The event was made even more memorable for the Greensboro, N.C., native as she was able to pick up her landmark victory in her home state with friends and family in attendance.
"Having my dad and my sister here was huge for me," Stockton said. "They've been such a big part of my career and I'm very thankful. I've been at Tulane for 20 years and I've had an opportunity to coach a lot of special people, so it's good to get."
After cruising to lopsided victories in each of their first three games in New Orleans, the Green Wave had to dig deep to come out on top in their first road contest. Tulane held a 31-23 lead at halftime and were on top by 13 at 40-27 with 13:36 left to play in regulation. UNC-Wilmington, however, refused to go away quietly and used a 17-3 run over the next 7:10 to take a 44-43 lead and had the game knotted at 45-all two possessions later.
From there, sophomore center Chinwe Duru sandwiched a three-point play and a layup around a bucket by freshman guard Lelsie Vorpahl to give the Green Wave a 51-45 lead they would not relinquish. The Seahawks kept things interesting, but Tulane hit some key free throws down the stretch to come out on top.
With the win, the Green Wave remain undefeated in the early part of the season at 4-0. It marks the fourth consecutive season that Tulane its first four games - an accomplishment not previously achieved in the 39-year history of the program. UNC-Wilmington, meanwhile, fell to 1-4.
"It wasn't pretty," Stockton said. "I think we knew this was a game that could get really ugly, and we just made a lot of mistakes. In the first half, we did some really good things. In the second half, we didn't rebound as well and didn't hit free throws, but it's good to pull out a win on the road.
"We were in a situation where the game was a one-point affair and we were able to pull it out and play defense at the end. I thought we came down with some big rebounds in those last two minutes and just took care of the ball. They brought some full-court pressure and we were able to handle that pressure."
Duru led the team with a career-high 18 points after sinking 7-of-11 field goals and 4-of-5 of her free throw opportunities to go with a team-best two blocked shots. She was one of two players to finish in double digits for Tulane as junior point guard Jamie Kaplan added 11 while handing out a game-high six assists.
Junior forward Tiffany Dale led the Wave with nine rebounds and added five points, one blocked shot an assists. Tulane also got an eight-point performance off the bench by sophomore forward Tierra Jones.
It was a back-and-forth battle early on as the two teams battled to a pair of ties and the lead changed hands three times in the first nine-plus minutes of action. A Vorpahl 3-pointer turned a 10-8 deficit into an 11-10 lead and helped spark a 23-10 run over the next 9:23 to give the Green Wave an 11-point edge at 31-20.
A trey by UNC-Wilmington's D'Asia Cain closed out the first-half scoring and proved to be a sign of things to come after the break. Tulane stretched its lead back to double figures early in the second half and appeared to be in control just under seven minutes into the final frame.
Things took downward turn for Tulane from there as the Wave went 0-for-6 from the field, committed five turnovers and their only points came via free throw during the Seahawks' game-changing rally which gave the home team a 44-43 lead. Duru halted the skid with a jumper at the 6:09 mark, and after a UNCW game-tying free throw, added a layup plus an and-one free throw with 5:22 on the clock.to put Tulane on top to stay.
"She was a go-to player for us today," Stockton said of Duru. "With her size and strength in there, she really looked comfortable. We tried to get her the ball as much as we could. Defensively, she certainly was a presence on the other end blocking shots. She's got a tremendous amount of potential and it was good to see her play with confidence today."
Kelva Atkins headlined three UNC-Wilmington players in double figures with 14 points while Brie Mobley and Naqaiyyah Teague each had 10. Teague led all players with 10 rebounds to post the game's lone double-double and blocked a pair of Green Wave shots.
Tulane returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 24, when the Green Wave travel to historic Reynolds Coliseum where they will face North Carolina State at 1 p.m. (CST). The Wave's next home game is slated for Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. against Ole Miss.
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).