Dec. 28, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - In the world of sports, a hot start or a blistering finish can often be the difference between winning and losing. For the Tulane University women's basketball team, it was a case of domination from the opening tip to the final horn as the Green Wave rolled past Northeastern, 85-49, in the opening game of the 18th Annual Tulane/DoubleTree Classic on Saturday afternoon in Devlin Fieldhouse.
Tulane opened the game with an 11-0 run and the only time the Green Wave advantage dipped below double digits the rest of the way was at the 16:03 mark of the opening half when the Huskies' Amencie Mercier nailed a jumper to make it 11-2. The win was the fourth in a row for Tulane, which improved to 8-3 on the year. Northeastern, meanwhile, fell to 6-5.
The Green Wave's 36-point margin of victory was the highest since defeating Loyola, 81-41, last Jan. 7, and the most against an NCAA Division I program since downing Southeastern Louisiana, 81-45, on Jan. 4, 2010.
Tulane will play Indiana State - which defeated Northwestern, 70-67, in Saturday's nightcap - for the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic title on Sunday at approximately 3 p.m. Day two of the DoubleTree Classic will begin with the consolation game between Northeastern and Northwestern with tipoff slated for 1 p.m.
"I was really happy with our intensity, especially in that first half," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "First off, we shared the ball a lot. We had 17 assists on 19 field goals (in the first half), and that's the sign of a very unselfish team. Defensively, we really locked them down and took their leading scorers out of the game. You saw us running quite a bit. We got some easy buckets and it was good to see us playing with a lot of confidence."
As a team, the Green Wave connected on a season-high 52.2 percent of their field goals (35-of-67) and had 29 assists along the way - a number which is also a season high and stands as the fourth-most in Tulane single-game history. The Wave held a 49-36 advantage on the boards and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points.
Facing a Northeastern team which featured center Jewel Tunstull - who entered the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic averaging 15.1 points and 9.2 rebounds - Tulane held the Huskies' standout to just nine points, all of which came in the second half when the game had long since been decided, and four rebounds.
Junior guard Danielle Blagg led the Green Wave with a game-high 20 points - her third-consecutive contest with 20-plus points - while both sophomore center Chinwe Duru and junior forward Tiffany Dale posted double-doubles. Duru had 13 points and 11 rebounds in a starting assignment and Dale came off the bench to score 12 and pull down a game-best 12 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Tierra Jones rounded out four Tulane players in double figures offensively with a career-high 14 points after sinking 7-of-8 field goals. Junior point guard Jamie Kaplan led all players with 10 assists to go with seven points and steal. Freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl added to Tulane's season-high assist total with six dimes while Blagg had four and both Jones and freshman guard Courtnie Latham posted three each. Dale led the Green Wave defense with three blocked shots and shared team-high steal honors with junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi at two apiece.
"We had a lot of great play today," Stockton said. "What's really special about this group is that we're not surprised by that. Different players can come in and do that. When you see the players with those kinds of rebounding numbers, that says a lot about different players being able to contribute."
Following Mercier's jumper to make it 11-2 just under four minutes into the contest, the Green Wave kept things going as Blagg buried a 3-pointer - the first of her six treys on the day - and added another three possessions later to make it 17-4. Tulane's lead swelled to as many as 28 in the first half at 48-20 with 59 seconds remaining in the stanza and Northeastern scored four of the final six points of the half to make it a 50-24 contest at the break.
The stoppage of play did little to cool the Green Wave offense as a Duru layup 3:10 into the second half made it a 30-point affair at 56-26 and Tulane took a 30-point lead for good at the 9:05 mark when Latham connected on a jumper to make it 67-36. Tulane led by as many as 37 twice down the stretch and redshirt-freshman center Morgan Rogers put the finishing touches on the contest on a layup with 32 seconds to play to account for the final score.
Mercier led Northeastern with 11 points and DaChe Williams was next for the Huskies with 10. Samantha DeFreese paced the team with 10 rebounds, Mercier headlined the squad with four assists and Tunstull had both of Northeastern's blocked shots.
Single-game tickets to the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic are available at the Devlin Fieldhouse ticket window, which opens one hour prior to Sunday's contests. Sideline reserved tickets are $10 each while general admission tickets are $5.
Sunday's Tulane/DoubleTree Classic championship contests is the second of a three-game homestand for the Green Wave, as Tulane will close out the non-conference portion of the schedule on Sunday, Jan. 5, against LSU. For tickets to that game, 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).