Jan. 31, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Riding the crest of a four-game winning streak, the Green Wave women's basketball team will look to keep the good times rolling on Saturday, Feb. 1, when Tulane plays host to Conference USA foe UTEP at 1 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse.
While Tulane enters the weekend with a head of steam, it will take on a Miners team that is just one game behind the Green Wave and a program that has been tough to beat in recent seasons. UTEP has won five of the last six head-to-head meetings with the Wave, including a 71-52 decision in last year's regular-season finale in El Paso, Texas. The Tulane squad is back at home after an extended trip to Houston caused by the recent wintry mix that inundated the Gulf Coast region and head coach Lisa Stockton commented that having a good crowd on hand can be a big key to coming out on top.
Women's Basketball Falls In Regular-Season Finale At UTEP, 71-52
Senior guard Olivia Grayson tied a season-high with 20 points and pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, but it was not enough as the Tulane University women's basketball team dropped a 71-52 decision to Conference USA foe UTEP in the regular-season finale on Friday evening at the Don Haskins Center.
"I think (having a good crowd) huge. This is a big game for us. We talking about trying to get one of those top seeds and UTEP is going to be in there. Trying to get in there with a UTEP or a Middle Tennessee, it's really important that we do well tomorrow. Obviously, we feed off the energy of our fans and it would be great if we get a great atmosphere."
Saturday's Tulane/UTEP contest will be broadcast on the flagship radio station of Green Wave women's basketball, WRBH 88.3 FM, and live audio streaming is available on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. In addition, live stats are available for free on the web via GameTracker.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 70.3 points, 42.0 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 8.2 steals and 3.9 blocks per game. Junior guard Danielle Blagg leads four players averaging double figures offensively with 12.9 points per game while junior point guard Jamie Kaplan, junior forward Tiffany Dale and freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl follow with respective averages of 12.2, 10.7 and 10.3. Dale paces the team with 8.3 rebounds and shares team high blocked shots honors with sophomore Chinwe Duru at 1.4 swats per game each. Kaplan leads the Green Wave with 6.6 assists per contest while junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi holds team-high steal honors with 1.4 thefts per outing.
Tulane is connecting at a .421 clip from the field, hitting 484-of-1151 shots from the floor, and 108-of-292 tries from beyond the 3-point arc (.370), while allowing opponents to shoot .376 overall (444-of-1181) and .279 from 3-point land (103-of-369). Green Wave foes are averaging 61.7 points, 36.8 rebounds, 12.9 assists, 7.9 steals and 2.6 blocks per game so far in 2013-14.
"We've done a good job of taking every game for what it is and approaching every game separately," Stockton said. "We've been very focused. We've certainly had some adversity with foul trouble and different things throughout the game, but our team has found a way to win. I'm very happy with how we're playing down in the last four or five minutes of the game. We've been very tough at that point so we've got to keep riding that and hope that we can continue to do so."
UTEP, meanwhile, comes to town 16-4 overall, 5-2 in Conference USA and riding the crest of a three-game winning streak after sandwiching home wins over Southern Miss (86-85 in overtime on Jan. 22) and Marshall (77-50 on Jan. 29) around a 67-56 road victory at UTSA on Jan. 25.
As a team, the Miners are averaging 79.5 points, 44.0 rebounds, 14.9 assists, 11.2 steals and 4.6 blocks per contest. Kayla Thornton is one of two UTEP players averaging double figures offensively with 19.2 points per game while Jenzel Nash is next with an average of 12.1. Thornton also paces the Miners with 10.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game, Chrishauna Parker averages a team-best 3.3 assists per outing, and Kristine Vitola headlines the defense with 2.3 blocked shots per contest.
UTEP is hitting 41.6 percent of its shots from the field, connecting on 543-of-1306 attempts, including a 118-of-364 showing from beyond the 3-point line (.324) while allowing opponents to tally a 39.0 field goal percentage (463-of-1187) with a 32.3 performance from 3-point land (122-of-378). Miners' foes are averaging 65.6 points, 39.5 rebounds, 11.6 assists, 7.0 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.
"They have different players that can score," Stockton added. "In the last game, they shot very, very well from the field. They have some 3-point shooters and, again, what they're going to do is they're going to play fast. They're going to get up and down the court in their fast break and really try and play fast. For us, we have to control the tempo.
"When you look at conference play, I definitely think their rebounds are what have been significant for them - getting more than one shot. They get a lot of offensive rebounds per game and that will be our challenge. We have to keep them off the offensive boards and limit them to one shot."
Saturday's game marks the 19th meeting between Tulane and UTEP on the hardwood, and the Green Wave trail 8-10 in the all-time series. Tulane is 7-10 against UTEP under Stockton with all of those games coming since the Miners joined Conference USA for the 2005-06 season.
The Tulane/UTEP series dates back to Feb. 15, 1980, when the Green Wave won an 86-61 contest in what is now Devlin Fieldhouse and are 5-4 against the Miners in New Orleans. Tulane won the last time the two teams squared off in as the home team courtesy of a 56-49 decision on Feb. 7, 2013.
The game against the Miners is the first of a two-game homestand for Tulane as the Wave will take on North Texas on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Tip time for that contest is slated for 7 p.m. For tickets to that games, as well as future Green Wave 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).