Playing for the first time since the 2010-11 season finale, redshirt-sophomore Whitney Bibbins tallied 11 points, four rebounds, one steal and a block in Tulane's 74-69 win over Bradley in day one of the Hilton Garden Inn Thanksgiving Tournament.
Nov. 23, 2012
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Senior guard Olivia Grayson scored 10 of her 12 points in the final three minutes and redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins added 11 points in her first action since the final game of the 2010-11 season as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated Bradley, 74-69, in day one of the Hilton Garden Inn Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday evening at the Rolle Activity Center.
The Green Wave trailed by as many as nine in the first half and found themselves trailing by seven at 46-39 with 14:41 left to play in the ballgame. From there, Tulane went on a 10-2 run over the next 2:16 to take a 49-48 lead it would not relinquish.
With the win, Tulane improved to 4-0 on the year for the third straight season and will play for the tournament title against Western Michigan - which defeated host Northern Arizona earlier in the day, 78-67 - on Saturday at 5:05 p.m. (CST). Bradley, meanwhile, fell to 2-3 and will play the Lumberjacks in the consolation game tomorrow at 3:05 p.m.
"This was a really good team tonight because if you made mistakes, they would hit a shot or they would get a shot," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "They weren't very forgiving. They set a lot of screens and they take advantage when you switch. They're tough to play and this is going to make us better. I was glad to see us fight back. At the end, defensively, we had a lot of young players in there and it was good to see that those players can hold a lead."
With Tulane clinging to a two-point edge at 64-62 following a jumper by Bradley's Jenny Smith with 3:12 to go, Grayson took a pass from sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan the next time down the court and nailed a jumper in the lane to push the lead back to four.
The Braves cut the Green Wave advantage to a pair twice down the stretch only to see Grayson answer with a layup and a pair of free throws to make it 70-66 with 21 seconds on the clock. Bradley sandwiched a 3-pointer by Katie Yohn between four more Grayson freebies, and Bibbins - who missed all of last season due to injury - swatted a Kelsey Budd trey attempt and gathered the rebound to allow the Green Wave to run out the clock.
"(Grayson is) always the person we go to at the end and that's why she was in that position," Stockton said. "She's played a lot of minutes, sat at that free throw line a lot and has made those shots at the end. She's definitely the one who we want to have the ball in her hands and she did a tremendous job. The one thing I think Olivia gets underrated in is her defense. She really does a great job of defending and not getting beat."
In addition to leading the team in scoring, Grayson also paced the Wave with eight rebounds while sharing team-high assist honors with senior wing Janique Kautsky with five each and sharing team-high assists honors with Bibbins, Kautsky and Kaplan with one each. Grayson and Bibbins were the only two Tulane players to post double-digit scoring totals, but 11 of the 12 players to take the court hit at least one field goal.
Bibbins led a group of Tulane reserves who combined to outscore Bradley's bench players 42-30. The Green Wave out-rebounded the Braves 42-38 ad turned 11 offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points. Sophomore forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi had eight points while sophomore forward Tiffany Dale, sophomore guard Danielle Blagg and freshman center Chinwe Duru added seven apiece.
"The one thing I reminder (Bibbins) about today is that she plays against a lot of great players every day in practice," Stockton added. "I knew she was ready today. We have a team with a lot of depth and they really prepared for this. It was good to see her go out there and play with confidence. As I've said, she's a special player and she gives us an added dimension that's really important for us."
The two teams traded baskets over the first six-plus minutes of Friday's game but a Yohn jumper and a Fantasia Vines put-back gave the Braves a 13-10 lead they would not relinquish the rest of the half. Tulane cut the deficit to one twice and the last came at 17-16 with 11:34 to go before halftime only to see Bradley go on a 10-2 run over the next 5:21 to take a commanding 27-18 lead.
The Green Wave scored the final four points of the first half and the first three of the second to take a 36-34 advantage 1:08 into the final frame only to see the Braves answer with a 10-1 run to make it 44-37 in favor of the Braves with 15:42 left to play.
Tulane and Bradley traded baksets to keep it a seven-point affair just over a minute later to set up the Green Wave comeback. Blagg got things going with a 3-pointer and a fast-break layup in consecutive possessions and Ebomwonyi tied the game at 46-all with one of her four field goals.
Following jumper by Bradley's Smith, Kaplan drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Tulane the lead for good. Duru scored the next five points with a pair of layups plus an and-one free throw to make it 53-48 with 10:33 to go to set up the late-game dramatics.
Yohn was one of three Bradley players to finish with a double-digit scoring total, tallying a game-best 17 points while Smith and Catie O'Leary had 15 and 10, respectively. O'Leary completed a double-double with 10 rebounds and Yohn had a team-best five assists.
Following the game against Western Michigan, the Green Wave return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 28, when they play host to Auburn at Devlin Fieldhouse. Tipoff for that game is slated for 7 p.m. and the contest will be broadcast on Cox Sports Television.
For tickets to Tulane/Auburn contest, as well as future Green Wave events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.