Dec. 9, 2011
DENTON, Texas - Freshman guard Jamie Kaplan scored a season-high 15 points in her first career start and fellow rookie Tiffany Dale was even better off the bench with a career-best 16 as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated North Texas, 55-47, Friday evening at UNT Coliseum.
With the score knotted at 28 less than two minutes into the second half, the Green Wave (7-2) defense held the Mean Green (7-3) without a field goal over the next 9:40 to take a 47-32 lead. The Mean Green rallied with 12-2 run to cut the deficit to five at 49-44 with 1:44 left to play, but Tulane got a layup by junior forward Janique Kautsky and four straight free throws by junior guard Olivia Grayson to keep North Texas at arm's reach.
"I thought it was going to be a defensive battle because both teams really focus on that," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "We gave up 22 offensive rebounds in the game and still came out the winner. It was a good performance. Our defense has really been the anchor of our team. The Mississippi State was the exception in that they got some shots, but tonight were back to our old selves as far as being able to defend and take some things away from the other team.
"Our defense has really created these wins for us. They're enabling us to win. Our offense has to come around. The nice thing is that different players step up different nights. We never know who it's going to be, so I know the other team doesn't know who it's going to be."
Dale and Kaplan both finished 6-of-11 from the field on Friday and Kaplan finished 3-for-5 from beyond the 3-point arc. Senior center Brett Benzio had eight points to go with a game-high 11 rebounds while pacing the squad with a pair of blocks. Grayson and Dale both pulled down eight rebounds and Kaplan posted a team-leading four assists and three steals.
For the game, the Green Wave hit 43.8 percent of their shots from the field (21-of-48), including a 10-of-22 performance (.455) in the second half. The Tulane defense, meanwhile, held the Mean Green to a .269 clip (18-of-67) and just eight field goals over the final 20 minutes of play.
The Green Wave got off to a good start, scoring the game's first six point, but the Mean Green came right back with six straight points of their own to set the tone for the rest of the contest. Tulane went ahead 14-10 with 11:03 to go before the break only to see North Texas used a 5-0 run over the next 2:47to take its only lead of the day at 15-14.
The see-saw affair continued and it appeared as if Tulane created some breathing room with a 7-0 rally to hold a 24-17 edge with 3:02 left in the first half. North Texas, however, scored seven of the final nine points of the stanza - including a buzzer-beating trey by Tamara Torru - to trim the Green Wave advantage to a pair at 26-24 heading into the locker rooms.
The Mean Green tied the game at 26-all on a Jasmine Godbolt basket and 28-28 on a Torru jumper 1:33 into the period. North Texas didn't hit another field goal until the 8:47 mark when Brittney Hudlon laid one off the glass from the right side. In between the Mean Greens' makes, Tulane went on a 19-4 run to take control of the ballgame.
While the Green Wave were stretching their lead, the Tulane defense held North Texas to an 0-for-12 shooting drought and forced five turnovers. Hudson's basket keyed a 6-0 run, but Tulane answered with a Grayson jumper to push the lead back to double-digits at 49-38 with 5:21 left to go and set up the late-game theatrics.
"We knew they were a good team coming in and we knew that we had to be able to react to their runs," Kaplan said. "We knew they were really good at getting the ball out and we needed to focus on transition defense. I thought as the game went on, we got better and better at that."
Torru led three Mean Green players in double figures with 13 points while Hudson had 12 and Godbolt added 11. Torru posted the game's lone double-double with 10 rebounds and tied Benzio for game-high block honors with a pair. Ash'Lynne Evans had two of North Texas' seven assists, and Hudson had a game-high nine steals.
The Green Wave return to action on Sunday, Dec. 11, when they play host to Southern at 2 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. From there, the team will take a break for exam week before traveling to Cajun Country to take on Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 22 and returning home to host the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic on Dec. 28-29 in Fogelman Arena.
For tickets to those games 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.