Dec. 5, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - Freshman wing Whitney Bibbins posted her second double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated Detroit 63-55 in the final game of the Big Easy Classic Sunday afternoon in Fogelman Arena.
Tulane held a 29-21 advantage at halftime and led by as many as 17 at 45-28 just under six minutes into the second half. The Green Wave advantage remained in double-digits until a Jalesa Jones layup with 8:43 left in regulation cut the deficit to nine at 49-40. The Titans whittled the Tulane lead down to just a pair at 55-53 five minutes and 20 second later, but the Green Wave rattled off seven straight points late to put the game away.
With the win, Tulane improved to 7-1 on the year and remained perfect in Big Easy Classic competition. Since the inception of the tournament in 2008, the Green Wave are now 6-0 all-time in the event. Detroit, meanwhile, fell to 3-4 during the 2010-11 season.
"I thought we played tired," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "When we got the 17-point lead, we kind of let down a little bit and they made some plays. They got to the line, made their shots, rebounded. For us, we've got to keep our foot on the gas. We've got to play. We've got to still play hard and I think that's something that we did against Mississippi State and in games we won handily.
"I think our players have the mentality that at the end they know they can win the game. They felt like we can lock people down. We have to do that for the whole game. I told them there are a lot of things we can improve on. We can't look at 7-1 and feel great about it. We've got to get better."
Bibbins was one of three Tulane players to finish with double-digit scoring totals as sophomore guard Olivia Grayson had a game-high 18 points while senior forward Tiffany Aidoo had 16 on the strength of four 3-point baskets. Bibbins was also one of two Green Wave student-athletes to tally double-digit rebounds as junior center Brett Benzio pulled down 10 boards for the second consecutive game.
Grayson had six of Tulane's 17 assists and five of the team's nine steals. Benzio, meanwhile, paced the squad with a pair of blocked shots. The Green Wave forced Detroit into 15 turnovers, which led directly to 21 of Tulane's 63 points (33.3 percent).
"We started off really strong, got the lead and then backed off a little," Grayson said. "That's something that we have to work on these next two weeks. We've got to break that (habit) and get better. It's something we have to do as a team - to learn how to put our foot on the petal and leave it there."
Tulane got off to a rough start offensively and Detroit held the early lead at 9-6 with 13:28 left to play in the first half. From there, Benzio sparked a 7-0 Green Wave run with a layup. Grayson followed with a pair of free throws as did Benzio, sophomore forward Janique Kautsky scored on a layup and sophomore guard Tyria Snow hit her only basket of the day to stake the Tulane to a 16-9 advantage with just over 10 minutes to play until halftime.
As if to foreshadow things to come, Detroit responded with five straight points to cut the deficit to two at 16-14, but Tulane outscored the Titans 13-7 the rest of the stanza to take an eight-point lead into the locker room at the break.
Aidoo sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a Detroit free throw in the opening minutes of the second half and Tulane appeared to take control of the contest with a 10-4 rally to hold a 45-28 lead with 14:04 left in regulation. Following a basket by Detroit's Yar Shayok and a jumper by Grayson, the Titans went on a 10-2 run to make it a nine-point contest on Jones' layup at the 8:43 mark.
Tulane got the lead back to 10 at 53-43 on a layup by senior point guard Roshaunda Barnes with 6:30 left to play, but Detroit got a 3-pointer by Dominique Dixon, back-to-back layups by Jones and a Lauren Allen trey to make it 55-53 with 3:23 on the clock.
Allen's 3-pointer would be Detroit's second-to-last basket of the night as Tulane scored seven straight to stretch the lead back to nine. The Titans broke the streak on a Talicia Washington layup with six second to go and Grayson closed out the scoring by hitting one-of-two free throws in the final second to account for the final score.
"It's like coach said, once we get the lead we get too comfortable and ease up," Aidoo said. "I hate doing this, but comparing our team from last year to this year, last year we always kept the mentality that we wanted to go get them and run them into the ground. I think that once we get that mentality again, we can start beating teams by 20 like we should be."
Shayok led four Detroit players in double figures with a team-best 13 points. Washington and Dixon each scored 11 while Allen had 10. Washington posted the Titans' lone double-double with a game-high 16 rebounds. Jones paced Detroit with four assists, Shayok had four blocks and Allen led the Titans with a pair of steals.
Following Sunday's game, the Tulane team will enjoy a 12-day break from competition before returning to action on Friday, Dec. 17, when the Green Wave play host to Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. The break comes in large part due to the University's final exams period and the team will focus on its academic duties before returning to on-the-court action.
"With exams, this is a really tough time for us just because they've got a bunch of papers and things," Stockton said. "We need this time (off). I think this is going to be good for us. As coaches, we can really break down some things and show them some things (on film). I feel very good about how we can come out of this. Being 7-1, that's probably better than I expected us to be at this time of the year, especially being down a couple of players."
Single-game tickets to future home contests are available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Floor seats are $15 while reserve and general-admission tickets can be purchased for $10 and $5, respectively. In addition, groups of 10 or more fans can purchase reserved tickets for $8 each and general admission seats go for $3 each.
The Tulane Athletics Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at (504) 861-WAVE (9283) via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.