Dec. 29, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - One day after posting their most lopsided win of the year, the Green Wave found themselves in a slugfest but once again came up with big plays when they were needed as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated Indiana State, 51-45, in the championship game of the 18th Annual Tulane/DoubleTree Classic on Sunday afternoon in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Sycamores scored the game's first eight points, but the Green Wave answered with a 15-0 run over the next 9:36 and held Indiana State without a field goal for a span of 10:29 to apparently take control of the ballgame. Tulane's lead swelled to as many as 14 early in the second half only to see Sycamores rally and tie things up at 38-all with 10:47 left in regulation.
From there, junior point guard Jamie Kaplan broke the deadlock with a layup at the 9:22 mark and Tulane never trailed again. The win was the fifth in row for the Green Wave, who improved to 9-3 on the year, as Tulane won its sixth-consecutive Tulane/DoubleTree Classic title. Indiana State, meanwhile, fell to 5-6.
"Indiana State came out very aggressive and ready to play," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "It was an aggressive game for 40 minutes. We really started flat and kind of had to fight out of that. I'm really proud of our defense. I thought we did a nice job defensively down the stretch. Even when our shots weren't falling we got back, played defense and held them to one shot.
"(Winning the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic is) one thing we're very proud of here because we've had good teams in the tournament. Northwestern, a Big 10 team, wasn't in the finals and I think that shows you the quality of play we have here. We've been able to bring some great teams in here and the fact that our team has been able to come from Christmas, come back and stay focused - there is a lot going on in the city right now - so it's a good win for us and we're proud of coming away with a championship."
Kaplan was named tournament MVP after scoring a game-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field - including a pair of 3-point baskets - to go with six rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. For the weekend, she averaged 13.0 points, 6.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest. Junior forward Tiffany Dale and sophomore forward Tierra Jones joined Kaplan on the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic All-Tournament Team, as did the Indiana State tandem of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Anna Munn, along with Northwestern's Maggie Lyon.
As a team, the Green Wave hit just 34.6 percent of its field goals (18-of-52) and 55.0 percent of its free throws (11-of-20), and were outrebounded by the Sycamores, 43-36. The difference came down to defense as Tulane held Indiana State to a .333 clip from the field (19-of-57), including a 1-for-11 showing from beyond the 3-point arc (.111). The Wave forced 21 Indiana State turnovers with 10 coming via steal, and turned the Sycamore miscues into 19 points.
Dale joined Kaplan in double figures offensively with 11 points off the bench to go with seven rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and a steal. She shared team-high rebounding honors with junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi while Jones equaled Kaplan's rebounding effort with six boards of her own. Jones paced the Tulane defense with three steals and drew three charging calls, including two in the final minutes to help put the game away. Junior guard Danielle Blagg led the Green Wave with two of Tulane's four blocked shots.
"The team played great today," Kaplan added. "Like Coach said, we started off a little slow but once we got settled down I think we executed our plays well. The defense really stepped up, especially in the second half. Tierra Jones made some huge plays down the stretch. Everyone really stepped up and that made a huge difference in the game."
Indiana State came out of the gates on fire as Abdul-Qaadir and Racheal Mahan had two baskets each to stake the Sycamores to an 8-0 lead in the first 2:57 of the ballgame. Freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl scored Tulane's initial points with a 3-pointer to halt ISU's streak and spark the Green Wave's big rally.
Tulane held a 10-point advantage at 20-10 on a 3-point-play by Blagg with 4:30 to go in the first half and were up nine at 25-16 on a Dale basket with 31 seconds left to play before the break. A jumper by Indiana State's Natasha Zurek made it a seven-point affair at halftime, but the Green Wave opened the final frame with a 3-pointer and a jumper by Kaplan trey and a Jones layup to go up 32-18 with 17:53 to play.
Indiana State answered with an 11-0 run over the next 3:42 and eventually tied the game at 38-38 on a Munn 3-pointer just before the midway point of the second half. Kaplan's ensuing layup gave Tulane the lead for good and neither team would score until Kaplan drained a trey with 4:40 left in regulation. The Sycamores cut the Green Wave lead to three twice down the stretch, the latest coming at 45-42 with 2:40 on the clock, but Tulane allowed just one field goal and one free throw the rest of the way and connected on six-of-eight free throws over the final 43 seconds to come out on top.
"We just started doing the things we do well," Stockton said of her team's late-game surge. "We played better defense. We rebounded better. We felt that Indiana State rebounded so well and we were giving up shots inside the paint on put-backs, so we stopped that and then we got our transition going a little bit. We got some easy baskets instead of having to work for so many."
Abdul-Qaadir led Indiana State with 15 points and Mahan was next for the Sycamores with nine to go with a team-best nine rebounds. Munn paced the squad with three assists and Marina Laramie led ISU with three steals.
Tulane returns to action on Sunday, Jan. 5, when the Green Wave close out the non-conference portion of the schedule against LSU at 2 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. 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).