Dec. 28, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - The Green Wave tandem of freshman Danielle Blagg and junior Olivia Grayson scored 11 points each as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated College of Charleston, 57-42, in the opening game of the 2011 Tulane/DoubleTree Classic on Wednesday evening at Fogelman Arena.
After rallying from a seven-point deficit to tie the game at 23-all at halftime, the Green Wave scored the first seven points of the second half and never looked back. The win was the fourth in a row for Tulane as the Green Wave improved to 10-2 on the year. College of Charleston, meanwhile, fell to 2-9.
"I thought we did a lot of good things defensively in the first half," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "We just didn't shoot well at all. We had open shots and just didn't hit them. In the second half, we did a lot better job of just finding the most open shot we could get and turning over the ball less. Those two things were the key."
As a team, Tulane hit just 9-of-26 shots in the opening 20 minutes (.346), but responded in the second half to connect at a 46.2 clip (12-of-26) to advance to Thursday's championship game. The Green Wave outscored the Cougars 26-4 in the paint and had 29 points off the bench to College of Charleston's nine.
Blagg and Grayson were the lone Tulane players to post double-figure scoring totals on Wednesday while senior center Brett Benzio finished with eight and junior guard Tyria Snow added six. Blagg led the Wave with seven rebounds while Grayson posted team-high marks with five assists and four steals.
Turnovers played a large role in the game early on as Tulane had 11 in the first half which led to 11 of the Cougars' 23 points in the opening stanza. Following the break, however, the Green Wave gave up just two points off turnovers.
"We just had one of those nights," Grayson said. "Everybody has them. We were getting open looks and just weren't knocking them down. We were missing layups and shots that we normally make. We'll hit those. We just had to relax, take our time and focus on our technique of the shot."
The two teams essentially traded baskets over the first six minutes as Tulane held a 9-8 advantage with 14:17 left to play in the first half. College of Charleston rattled off six straight points to take a 14-9 lead 10:45 later and led by as many as seven at 19-12 and again at 21-14 with 3:10 to play before halftime. The Green Wave, however, outscored the Cougars 9-2 the rest of the stanza to tie the game at the break.
Benzio opened the second-half scoring with back-to-back layups and the Green Wave got a 3-point play from junior guard Tyria Snow to go ahead 30-23 and take control of the game. College of Charleston cut the lead to five on a pair of Cathryn Hardy free throws with 15:14 left in regulation but Tulane answered with a 12-7 run over the next 5:18 to stretch the lead to double digits.
The Green Wave appeared to take control of the game when redshirt-freshman guard Katye Magee drained a trio of free throws to make it 45-34 with 9:03 to go only to see the Cougars cap an 8-2 rally with a Jillian Brown 3-pointer 3:19 later to make it a five-point game at 47-42.
Browns trey was the final points of the game for College of Charleston as Tulane got jumpers from Grayson and Benzio, a free throw by Grayson, a 3-point play by sophomore forward Brittany McDonald and a pair of free throws by freshman guard Jamie Kaplan to account for the final score.
"Our press got going and we got some steals off our press," Stockton said of Tulane's second-half effort. "We tried to create some offense from our defense and that really helped a lot. Getting those easy baskets and getting to the free throw line early in the second half really gave us the lead and we were able to hang on."
College of Charleston center Latisha Harris led all players with 13 points and 12 rebounds while Brown matched Grayson with five assists and four steals in the losing effort.
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday, Dec. 29, when they take on Hampton - which defeated Central Michigan 77-51 in the second game on Wednesday - in the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic Championship Game at 8 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. College of Charleston will square off against the Chippewas in the consolation game. Tipoff for that ballgame is slated for 6 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.