Nov. 28, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - It was a tale of two halves for the Green Wave and when the final horn sounded, they were no longer undefeated as the Tulane University women's basketball team dropped a 70-65 decision to Auburn on Wednesday evening in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave (5-1) shot 55.6 percent from the field in the opening half - including five 3-pointers - to take a 39-23 lead into the locker room at halftime. After the break, however, the Tigers (5-2) scored the first 12 points of the second half and outscored Tulane 9-3 over the final two minutes to emerge victorious.
"We came out flat in the second half," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "Defensively, we really let down and we gave up 23 offensive rebounds (overall). There was a big run to start the second half and that was hard to recover from. When you look at the last two minutes, we could have done some things differently but it all came down to the start of the second half.
"They had a banked three and they made some very good plays in there. A lot of it came down to rebounding...If we stopped the first one, they got more than one shot. They're a big team. We knew that rebounding was going to be the key. I thought we kept them in check in the first half. In the second half, we just didn't. And we didn't shoot the ball as well in the second half."
After hitting 15-of-27 field goals and holding Auburn to a .300 clip (9-of-30) during the first 20 minutes, it was almost the exact opposite after halftime as the Green Wave connected on just 6-of-26 baskets (.231) while allowing the Tigers to hit 18-of-36 shots (.500) in the second half. Auburn used its size to hold a 45-35 edge in rebounding, including 23 off the offensive glass which led to 20 second-chance points, and a 30-22 advantage in points in the paint.
Tulane held off Auburn's second-half charge for most of the period and clung to 62-58 lead with 2:49 to play. Blanche Alverson made it a one-point ballgame with a 3-pointer at the 1:58 mark and Hasina Muhammad put the Tigers on top for good with a layup plus an and-one free throw the next time down the court. The Wave had a chance to tie it up, but sophomore forward Tiffany Dale missed a pair of free throws and Tra'cee Tanner made the misses hut with a basket on Auburn's ensuing possession to make it 66-62.
A 3-pointer by sophomore guard Danielle Blagg cut the deficit to one, but Auburn hit all four of its free-throw opportunities down the stretch to account for the final score.
"I felt that we had a very good scout on them," Stockton said. "We didn't want to give Alverson the 3 and then we gave it to her. If we had executed our game plan, I thing we would have been okay. I think we just need to stick with our game play. We did in the first half. I thought the first half was probably as good of a first half as we've had all year. In the second half, it just seemed like we lost focus."
Senior wing Janique Kautsky led the Green Wave with a career-high 16 points and redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins came off the bench to add 14 and a Green Wave-leading seven rebounds. Sophomore Jamie Kaplan paced Tulane with five assists while Dale added a pair of blocks and shared team-high steal honors with senior guard Olivia Grayson and freshman forward Tierra Jones with one apiece.
Auburn appeared to set the tone for the game early and raced out to a 7-2 lead at the 18:01 mark before Tulane appeared to turn the tables with a 13-0 run over the next 7:15. The lead swelled as the half progressed and a Kautsky 3-pointer put Tulane on top by 16 heading into the locker room at the break.
The Tigers held Tulane scoreless over the first 4:58 of the second half and by the time Blagg hit a jumper from the elbow for Tulane's first points since intermission, Auburn had cut the lead all the way down to four. The Tigers go it down to one three more times the rest of the way and Tulane had an answer to the first two but could not answer the bell in the final two minutes of the game.
"I think we realized how good we can be and how good we are after the first half," Kautsky said. "We need to work on coming out in the second half to just putting our foot down. It's something we've kind of done over the last two or three years. We have to learn to have a little bit of fight in us. We can dwell on it maybe tonight but when we wake up tomorrow, we've got film and weights and we'll focus on Sunday. Hopefully this will be our only loss."
Alverson and Hasina Muhammad each had 21 points to lead Auburn while Tanner came off the bench to score 14. Peyton Davis led all players with nine rebounds and Najat Ourdad had a game-best seven assists. Alverson added a team-high three blocks to her stat line and shared game-high steal honors with Tyrese Tanner with three each.
The Green Wave return to action on Sunday, Dec. 2, when they play host to UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 2 at Devlin Fieldhouse. For tickets to that 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.