Dec. 22, 2011
LAFAYETTE, La. - Junior guard Olivia Grayson scored a game-high 17 points and freshman forward Tiffany Dale posted the first double-double of her career with 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench as the Tulane University women's basketball team cruised past Louisiana-Lafayette, 75-40, on Thursday afternoon at Earl K. Long Gym.
Tulane scored the first points of the game on a pair of Jamie Kaplan free throws and never trailed all day. With the win, the Green Wave concluded their slate against in-state opponents a perfect 7-0 and improved to 9-2 on the year. The Ragin' Cajuns, meanwhile, fell to 5-7.
"Once again, I think our defense is the core of what we do," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "We did some very good things there. We had some goals that wanted to accomplish today and one of them was we rebounding. We out-rebounded them by 15. We were going to try and cut our down which we really didn't today, but we wanted to shoot free throws better. That was something that was really good to see - getting to the free throw line quite a bit and being able to hit about 83 percent of them."
The Green Wave hit 41.9 percent of their shots from the field (26-of-62) with eight 3-point baskets. The Tulane defense did its part as well, holding UL-Lafayette to a .264 clip from the floor (14-of-53), including a 5-of-24 performance in the first half (.208).
Tulane out-rebounded the Cajuns 46-13 and turned 18 offensive boards into 18 second-chance points. In addition, the Green Wave outscored Louisiana-Lafayette in the paint 30-14, had 13 steals while forcing 26 turnovers, and posted 16 fast-break points.
Grayson was the lone starter to score in double figures after hitting 6-of-10 field goals - including a 3-of-5 performance from beyond the 3-point arc - and was 2-for-2 from the free throw stripe. Redshirt-freshman guard Katye Magee, meanwhile, had 11 points in 15 minutes of action off the bench while Dale and freshman guard Danielle Blagg had 10 apiece in 17 and 21 minutes of work, respectively.
Freshman forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi fell one basket short of a double-double with eight points and a game-best 11 rebounds. Dale was next with 10 boards while senior center Brett Benzio pulled down nine. Kaplan tallied a team-leading five assists while Grayson led all players with five steals.
"It's good to see Katye Magee come in and hit some open shots," Stockton said. "That really changes a lot for us. She's such a great shooter and it was good to see her gain some confidence there. This was one of Olivia's better games today. Her floor game was good. As far as her shot selection goes, this was a really good game for her. She was 6-for-10, took some really good shots and finished them."
Following Kaplan's opening free throws, the Cajuns knotted the score on a layup by Krystal Motley. Ebomwonyi's basket with 16:23 to play in the opening half, however, gave Tulane a 4-2 advantage it would not relinquish.
Ahead 6-4 two possessions later, the Green Wave sandwiched runs of 12-0 and 8-0 around a pair of Motley free throws to take a commanding 26-6 lead with 6:33 to go before halftime. Louisiana-Lafayette guard Meghan Whitaker halted Tulane's second scoring streak with a 3-pointer, but Benzio scored six of the game's next eight points and Tulane capped the half with a Kaplan layup and a pair of Magee free throws to go into the locker room at the break on top 36-13.
The onslaught continued in the second half as Tulane stretched the lead to 30 at 51-21 just under six minutes into the stanza. The Cajuns cut the deficit to 25 with 13:34 left to play. That, however, was as close as the Green Wave would let Louisiana-Lafayette get and the advantage swelled to as many as 37 at 73-36 with2:22 to go and again at 75-38 less than two minutes later. UL-Lafayette's Josie West accounted for the final tally courtesy of a layup with 10 seconds left in regulation.
"If you told me before the year started that we could be 9-2 at this point with the schedule we have, I would have been a little surprised," Stockton added. "This team has really been fun. They're fun to coach because they get better and they keep in it. They seem to really love to play. I sit over there on the bench and you can just hear everybody cheering for everybody. That kind of chemistry is what can win championships. I hope this team really feels like we could be on our way to that."
West led UL-Lafayette with nine points and Motley was next with seven. Brooklyn Arceneaux paced the squad with seven rebounds and shared team-high steals honors with Motley at three each. Nicole Morris led the Cajuns with three assists.
The Green Wave will enjoy some time off for the holidays before returning to action on Wednesday, Dec. 28, when they host the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic in Fogelman Arena. Tulane will open tournament play against College of Charleston at 6 p.m. while Hampton and Central Michigan will square off at 8 p.m. The consolation game is slated for Dec. 28 at 6 p.m., while the winner of the opening-day's games will play in the championship game at 8 p.m.
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.