Nov. 24, 2012
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Senior wing Janique Kautsky tied a career-high with 13 points and celebrated her birthday in style to help lead the Tulane University women's basketball team to a 66-48 victory over Western Michigan in the championship game of the Hilton Garden Inn Thanksgiving Tournament on Saturday evening at the Rolle Activity Center.
Kautsky, who added three assists, two rebounds and a block against the Broncos, was named tourney MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by fellow senior Olivia Grayson. For the weekend, Kautsky connected on 8-of-14 field goals for 17 points, pulled down seven rebounds, handed out nine assists, blocked one shot and posted a steal.
"This was a great tournament for her, but I think she's played well all season," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said of Kautsky. "She's a player who has really done a great job of working into this program and developing into one of our top players. She's really hard to do without on the floor. I'm really happy for her and happy for the senior class.
"I thought there were a lot of positives today. We did a very good job in the first half of taking care of the ball and we shot so well. We felt that in the second half, we had to come out and play better defense, we did and I was glad to see us hold on for this one."
With the win, Tulane improves to 5-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season when the Wave won their first 14 games. The 2-0 performance over the weekend marked the first by Green Wave in a tournament they did not host since winning a pair of games at the 2007 Cancun Caribbean Challenge. Tulane also claimed the first regular-season tournament title when not playing in New Orleans since winning the FIU Thanksgiving Tournament in 2006. Western Michigan, meanwhile, fell to 2-3.
The Green Wave broke things open midway through the first half by holding the Broncos without a point for nearly 10 minutes. The defense forced 19 turnovers - including eight via steal - and turned those miscues into 22 points. In addition, Tulane outscored Western Michigan in the paint, 32-28, and held a 30-22 edge in points off the bench.
"The defense really set the tone," Stockton said. "We were able to block shots, get rebounds, get our fast break going and get easy baskets. I think it was a combination of keying our defense and getting our offense going."
Kautsky was one of two Green Wave players to post double-digit scoring totals as Grayson finished with 10 to go with a game0high eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan came off the bench to pace Tulane with five assists and shared team-high steal honors with senior guard Tyria Snow and sophomore forward Ebomwonyi with two apiece.
All 12 players to take the court for Tulane scored at least two points, including a nine-point effort by Ebomwonyi and six-point nights by Snow and sophomore guard Danielle Blagg. As a team Tulane connected on 44.3 percent of its shots from the field (27-of-61), including a 50.0 clip in the second half (13-of-26), while holding Western Michigan to 35.2 percent overall (19-54).
The Broncos scored seven of the first 11 points of the ballgame and held a 7-4 lead just over three minutes into the contest. Tulane answered with a 5-0 run over the next 1:28 to take a 9-7 lead and never trailed the rest of the half. Western Michigan tied the game four more times during the opening stanza but Tulane broke things open with a 17-2 run to turn a 16-16 tie into a 15-point lead with 4:45 to play before halftime.
Western Michigan responded with a 5-0 run to make it a 10-point ballgame, but Kautsky drained a jumper with just under a minute before the break to send Tulane into the locker room on top, 35-23. The Broncos cut the Tulane lead down to 10 four times during the first six minutes of the second half but could never get it down below double digits.
The Green Wave quieted any talks of a comeback midway through the half as senior forward Brittany McDonald hit a jumper with 13:31 to play to spark an 18-6 run over the next 4:47. An Ebomwonyi layup with 8:44 to play capped the run to stake Tulane to a game-best 22-point lead at 60-38. The Wave hit just two field goals the rest of the way, but the big lead proved to be too much to overcome as Tulane won its fourth straight game away from home.
"I think we accomplished what we needed to," Stockton added. "We went on the road, we developed as a team, and I think there's a lot of bonding that happened. The players really got to know each other in a different way. Going back home, we'll just need to build on this."
Miracle Woods led Western Michigan with 11 points and A.J. Johnson was next with 10 off the bench. Michelle O'Brien paced the Broncos with six rebounds, Johnson had a team-best five assits, and Aurielle Anderson tallied a game-high three steals.
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. The game against the Tigers is one of two straight home contests as the Green Wave will play UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 2.
For tickets to those contests, 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.