Junior guard Danielle Blagg had 23 points and seven rebounds in Tulane's 89-67 win over Saint Francis in day two of the FGCU Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic.
Dec. 21, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Junior guard Danielle Blagg led four Green Wave players in double figures with 23 points, which included a 5-for-9 performance from beyond the 3-point arc, as the Tulane University women's basketball team held a 47-25 scoring advantage in the second half to defeat Saint Francis (Pa.), 89-67, in day two of the FGCU Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic on Saturday afternoon at Florida Gulf Coast University's Alico Arena.
Taking the court in the second half with the score tied at 42-42, the Green Wave scored the first seven points of the final frame and never looked back. The win was the third in a row for Tulane, which improved to 7-3 on the year, while the Wave's offensive output was a season-high and the most since defeating Rice, 91-63, back on Jan. 11, 2009. Saint Francis, meanwhile, dropped its fifth consecutive ballgame to fall to 2-8.
"It was a much better second half for us," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "We took care of the ball better. Fourteen turnovers in the first half really kept Saint Francis in it. In the second half, we did a better job with that. We took better shots in the second half, even though we shot equally as well but we just had more shots at the basket. Also, we got a little tougher defensively. We gave them one shot and out and didn't put them on the free throw line as much. Probably one of the biggest problems we had was foul trouble and trying to rotate people in and out, and our kids did a great job of staying in it."
As a team, the Green Wave hit 50.0 percent of their shots from the field (29-of-58), including a .519 clip in the first half (14-of-27). The difference in the game was Tulane's second-half defense as the Wave bounced back from allowing the Red Flash to hit 15-of-30 first-half shots to hold Saint Francis to a 6-of-30 performance (.200) after the break.
Despite playing without junior center Tiffany Dale, who suffered an injury during Friday's overtime win against Virginia, Tulane held a commanding 43-30 rebounding advantage, turned 12 offensive boards into 17 second-chance points and outscored Saint Francis in the paint, 30-22. While both teams finished 21 turnovers apiece, the Green Wave had just seven in the second half compared to the Red Flash' 10, and Tulane turned the Saint Francis miscues into 23 points.
Freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl finished second to Blagg in scoring with 15 points while junior point guard Jamie Kaplan had 12 and junior forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi came off the bench to add 11. Ebomwonyi led the Green Wave rebounding effort with nine boards, Kaplan paced the squad with six assists and sophomore forward Tierra Jones headlined the defense with four steals.
Sophomore center Chinwe Duru fell one bucket and two rebounds shy of a double-double with eight points and eight rebounds, and Blagg was next on the glass for Tulane with seven boards.
"I think you see Danielle get her timing back after missing so long," Stockton said of her preseason All-Conference USA selection. "Also, having that exam break really helped her conditioning. I felt that that was part of it - her conditioning and her timing. She really looked good today and honestly, I think her all-around game is so much better than she's had. When you look at rebounds tonight, she had a lot of rebounds. She's really being aggressive. Defensively, she's being aggressive. We're a much better team when Danielle plays like that."
Tulane scored the first four points of the ballgame and raced out to an 11-point lead at 17-6 with 14:02 to play before halftime. From there, however, the Red Flash used a 22-9 run over the next 7:12 to take a 28-26 lead. The two teams traded blows over the final six-plus minutes of the stanza and headed into the locker room at the break deadlocked at 42-all.
A Blagg 3-pointer 2:03 into the second half broke the tie and sparked Tulane's 7-0 run. Vorpahl and Blagg both hit a pair of free throws, and following two free throws by Saint Francis' Alli Williams, the Green Wave got back-to-back layups by Kaplan and Ebomwonyi to stretch the led to nine at 53-44 with 15:52 left to play.
A jumper by Red Flash guard Bridget Murphy halted Tulane's momentum for a second, but buckets by Duru and Ebomwonyi on Tulane's next two possessions made it an 11-point affair at 57-46 and the Green Wave's lead never dipped below double digits the rest of the night.
"In the first half, we played a lot more of their game," Stockton added. "In the second half, we played more of ours. We broke the press and our rule was we weren't going to shoot off of a press break unless we had a layup. We had a few of those. Otherwise, we came out, ran our offense and got really good looks in our offense. I felt like we found the open player. When you look at our shooting percentage, we shared the ball really well. That was a real key in the second half."
Williams led Saint Francis with a game-high 33 points after sinking 9-of-18 field goals - including a 3-of-8 showing from 3-point land - and 12-of-15 free throws, and posted the game's lone double-double with 11 rebounds. Alexa Hayward was second on the team with 16 points, Aisha Brock paced the Red Flash with four assists, and Williams shared team-high steal honors with Corissa Archer at two each.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Dec. 28, when they open play in the 2013 Tulane/DoubleTree Classic against Northeastern at 1 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. Day one of the DoubleTree Classic will conclude with a 3 p.m. showdown between Indiana State and Northwestern. The winner of those two games will play for the tournament title on Dec. 29 at 3 p.m. and the consolation contest is slated for 1 p.m.
For tickets to those games, as well as future Tulane athletics events, contact the Tulane Ticket Office. The ticket office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson Jr. Center, and fans can also order tickets on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com or by calling (504) 861-WAVE (9283).