Nov. 25, 2011
CANCUN, Mexico - Freshman forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi had a career-best 15 points and senior center Brett Benzio pulled down a game-high nine rebounds as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated Idaho State in a defensive battle, 45-37, Friday afternoon in day two of the Cancun Challenge at the Moon Palace Resort.
The Green Wave defense held the Bengals to a 29.5 field goal percentage for the game (13-for-44), to just five second-half field goals, and without a basket over the final 7:50 of the game. With the win, Tulane improved to 1-1 for the tournament and 5-1 for the year. Idaho State, meanwhile, fell to 3-3.
"They gave us some challenges because their offense is really tough to defend," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "That was my concern going into this, that it's such a quick turnaround (from yesterday's game against No. 15 Purdue) with that kind of motion offense. I thought our kids did a great job. We didn't shoot well, but defensively, I thought we did a great job."
Tulane clung to a one-point lead at 37-36 with 7:54 left to play but Benzio sandwiched layups around an Ebomwonyi basket over the next 1:35 to make it 43-36. The Green Wave gave up just one point the rest of the way - a free throw by ISU's Kaela Oakes - and junior guard Olivia Grayson hit a pair of freebies with 29 seconds remaining to account for the final score.
Ebomwonyi was the lone Green Wave player to post a double-digit scoring total while Benzio and junior guard Tyria Snow tallied eight points each. Grayson paced the squad with five assists and both Benzio and Snow tied for the team lead with three steals apiece.
Tulane used its size inside to outscore Idaho State in the paint, 22-4, and turned 12 offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points. The Wave hit just 34.0 percent of its shots from the field (18-of-53), but did convert 10-of-24 shots after halftime (.417) to come away with the win.
"Every experience that this team has is going to make us better," Stockton said. "I've learned more about them and what we can do in what situations. We played two teams (in the tournament) that were very different from each other and that's going to make us better. The more we expose this young team too, the better we can be. Sometimes it's nice when the games are close and you can pull them out."
After giving up the first basket of the game, Tulane scored 13 of the next 15 points to jump out to a nine-point lead 7:31 into the contest. The margin remained nine at 16-7 just over a minute and a half later, but the Bengals went on an 11-2 run to take a 20-18 advantage with 1:01 left in the half. Ebomwonyi turned one of her four first-half offensive rebounds into a layup with 25 seconds remaining on the clock to send the team's into the locker room at the break deadlocked at 20-all.
The Bengals broke the tie on free throw by Cydney Horton 48 seconds into the second half before Benzio converted a layup two possessions later to give Tulane a 22-21 lead. Benzio's basket sparked a 10-0 run and the Green Wave tied its largest lead of the day at 30-21 with 14:37 left to play.
Idaho State answered with a 9-0 run to tie the score 1:42 later, but a 3-pointer by freshman Jamie Kaplan gave the Green Wave a 33-30 lead they would not relinquish. Tulane added an Ebomqonyi layup and a pair of Grayson free throws to make it 37-30. The Bengals, however, responded with a trey from Blaire Brady, an Oakes free throw and a Lindsey Reed jumper to set up the Green Wave's late defensive stand.
Reed led Idaho State with 12 points and Oakes was close behind with 11. Ashleigh Vella paced the Bengals with six rebounds and two steals while sharing the team lead in assists with Oakes at three each.
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, Dec. 2, when they travel to Ruston, La., to take on Louisiana Tech. Tipoff for that game is slated for 7 p.m. Tulane's game against the Lady Techsters is the first of three consecutive road games as the Wave will play at Mississippi State on Dec. 4 and at North Texas on Dec. 9 before returning to Fogelman Arena on Sunday, Dec. 11, when the Green Wave play host to Southern at 2 p.m.
For tickets to that game and future Green Wave home events, 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, is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.