Dec. 29, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - For most of the first half, junior forward Danielle Nunn was little more than a spectator after picking up two fouls in her first six minutes on the court. In the second half, however, she was a sparkplug as Nunn scored all of her team-leading 15 points after halftime to help lead the Tulane University women's basketball team to 67-49 win over Texas Tech in the championship game of the Tulane DoubleTree Classic Tuesday evening in Fogelman Arena.
Nunn was one of four Green Wave players to post double-digit scoring totals and was named tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 half steals in the two-day event. With the win, Tulane extended its winning streak to eight in a row and improved to 10-2 on the year. The victory also gives the Green Wave their 11th DoubleTree Classic title and their first-ever win over the Red Raiders. Texas Tech, meanwhile, saw its 10-game winning streak come to an end and fell to 11-2.
"I'm so proud of this group," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "They just found a way no matter what's come our way - even foul trouble tonight. This was a game they were really excited about. I never saw any nerves. They came out focused and got it done."
"We talked...with the team, that this is an opportunity game. It's one that we can make a statement with. The Big 12 is the No. 1 conference in the country. We would like to make a statement with it because Texas Tech is such a good team. I never would have anticipated this kind of margin (of victory)."
For the second straight game, Tulane used a small, quick lineup and used its defensive pressure to post 13 steals and create 27 turnovers. The Green Wave were able to turn the Red Raider miscues into 18 points off turnovers and 13 fast-break points. Texas Tech out-rebounded Tulane 46-31 for the game, but the Green Wave actually posted 19 rebounds to the Red Raiders' 17 in the second half.
Tulane shot 43.1 percent for the game, hitting 25-of-58 shots, while holding Texas Tech to a 37.3 mark on 19-of-51 shooting. While the Red Raiders entered the ballgame averaging 4.8 3-pointers a game, the Green Wave's perimeter defense help Texas Tech off the board from beyond the arc in 10 tries.
"This is a very good Texas Tech team, so give them a lot of credit," Nunn said. "But we bond together as a team. This was a big game for us and as the season goes on this could be a resume builder. We just wanted to come out here, play and show that we can compete as a Conference USA team."
Junior forward Tiffany Aidoo joined Nunn on the all-tournament team, as did Texas Tech's Kierra Mallard and Ashlee Roberson, Ashley Palmer of Long Island and North Dakota's Whitney Ledger. Freshman guard Olivia Grayson was second on the team in scoring with 13 points, followed by junior Roshaunda Barnes with 11 and Aidoo with 10.
Grayson and Nunn tied for team-high rebounding honors with six each. Barnes led all players with a game-high six assists and tied senior guard Chassity Brown in steals with four each.
The Red Raiders scored the first three points of the game on a free throw and layup by Roberson, but Tulane scored seven of the next nine points and never trailed again. Tulane broke an 11-all tie with 12:29 left in the first half on a layup by Aidoo and went into the locker room at halftime on top by six at 27-21.
It was the second half when the Green Wave really pulled away as Tulane opened the final frame with a 10-1 rally to stretch the advantage to 15 at 37-22 with 17:05 left to play. Another Roberson layup cut the Tulane lead to 13 just over a minute later before Tulane used a 16-7 rally to push the lead to a game-high 22 at 53-31 with 9:03 on the clock.
The Red Raiders cut the deficit to 17 twice, but could get no closer. Tulane's final field goal came via freshman Janique Kautsky with 4:30 left to play, but the Green Wave hit five-of-6 free throws the rest of the way to account for the final score.
"This team has great chemistry and the one thing I told them in the locker room was `don't forget how you got here,'" Stockton said of her pregame speech. "They work hard, there's no selfishness and that kind of chemistry can beat talent many times."
Mallard led Texas Tech with 15 points and had 13 rebounds while Roberson finished with a game-high 18 boards to go along with 13 points. Jordan Murphree paced the Red Raiders with three assists and three steals.
The Green Wave return to action on Monday, Jan. 4, when they travel to Hammond, La., to take on Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. From there, Tulane returns home on Friday, Jan. 8, when the Wave open the Conference USA portion of their schedule against Houston at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. For ticket information to that game, as well as any future Green Wave event, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.