March 4, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - When the Tulane University women's basketball team takes the court for the 2013-14 regular-season finale against Conference USA newcomer Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, March 5, the Green Wave will have a lot to play for when the two teams tipoff at 7 p.m. on the uptown campus.
First and foremost, the Green Wave will be looking to lock up a top-four seed in the upcoming C-USA Championship - which is slated to run from March 11-15 in El Paso, Texas - and the coveted double-bye that comes with it. And while a win would assure Tulane of a double-bye as well as provide the Green Wave with some momentum heading into the conference tournament, the program will also hold a special ceremony prior to contest as four individuals - senior forward Brooke Blankenship and redshirt-junior guard Katye Magee along with managers Amanda Hardy and Rachel Schwartz - will be making their final regular-season home appearance as the quartet are all on pace to complete their degrees at the conclusion of the spring semester.
"When you take the quality people that we've had in our program, everyone has played different roles and the two players exemplify what it means to be a student-athlete," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "Our managers have been so dedicated to the program when they're not really getting paid that much money and they have to put in a lot of time in. They're all quality people and I think quality people most certainly make your program better.
"This is a tough challenge here and it has to be about us making this as good of a game as we can. We've got to handle the emotions of that. I hope that we can get a good crowd to honor those seniors after the game and send them off in a very good way."
Tulane can also earn the No. 4 seed in defeat but the Green Wave will need an assist from Old Dominion, which plays host to East Carolina on Saturday evening in Norfolk, Va. A Tulane loss and an East Carolina win would make both teams 11-5 in league play, but the Pirates would claim the higher seed courtesy of C-USA tie-breaker policy as the Pirates defeated the Green Wave in their lone regular-season meeting, 69-65, back on Jan. 15 in New Orleans.
"When you get to this time of year, it would be nice to have that double-bye and we're right there in the mix," Stockton said. "But if we don't, we still get one night off to watch and we'll have to play our way in. There have been several teams that have won four games and been able to win the tournament."
Wednesday's game against Middle Tennessee will be broadcast on the flagship radio station of Tulane women's basketball, WRBH 88.3 FM, and live video streaming is available on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. Live stats will be provided on the web for free via GameTracker.
Tulane enters the regular-season finale, 20-8 on the year, 11-4 in Conference USA action and looking to bounce back from a 79-67 loss to league foe Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 69.8 points, 41.7 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 8.3 steals and 4.1 blocks per game. Junior guard Danielle Blagg leads a balanced offense with 12.4 points per game while junior point guard Jamie Kaplan and junior forward Tiffany Dale follow with identical scoring averages of 11.7 and 11.6. Dale paces the team with 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game each and Kaplan leads the Green Wave with 6.8 assists per contest. Junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi headlines the defense with 1.4 steals per outing.
Tulane is connecting at a .422 clip from the field, hitting 688-of-1630 shots from the floor, and 140-of-430 tries from beyond the 3-point arc (.326), while allowing opponents to shoot .383 overall (636-of-1661) and .299 from 3-point land (156-of-522). Green Wave foes are averaging 63.1 points, 36.6 rebounds, 13.8 assists, 8.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game so far in 2013-14.
Middle Tennessee, meanwhile, comes to town 25-4 overall record and riding the high of a seven-game winning streak dating back to a 65-54 victory over Rice back on Feb. 8. As a team, the Blue Raiders are averaging 67.3 points, 41.1 rebounds, 12.6 assists, 8.4 steals and 1.9 blocks per contest.
Ebony Rowe leads the Middle Tennessee offense with 21.3 points per game while KeKe Stewart and Shanice Cason follow with marks of 10.0 and 8.3, respectively. Rowe also paces the Blue Raiders with 11.5 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per contest, Cason sports a team-best 2.5 assist-per-game average, and Olivia Jones headlines the defense with 2.3 steals per outing.
Middle Tennessee is hitting 40.0 percent of its shots from the field, connecting on 666-of-1664 attempts, including a 170-of-603 showing from beyond the 3-point line (.282) while allowing opponents to tally a 36.6 field goal percentage (590-of-1613) with a 28.5 performance from 3-point land (116-of-407). Blue Raiders' foes are averaging 55.1 points, 37.5 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 7.0 steals and 3.3 blocks per game.
"Middle Tennessee has certainly had a great season," Stockton added. "They've done an amazing job of being very consistent on the defensive end and they have a legitimate candidate for Player of the Year in Ebony Rowe. It's a tough challenge, but in many ways it's nice having a good opponent going into the conference tournament. This will really test us."
Wednesday's game marks the first-ever meeting between Tulane and Middle Tennessee on the hardwood. The Blue Raiders are in their first season as a member of Conference USA after serving membership in the Sun Belt Conference for the last 13 seasons.
The Middle Tennessee program dates back to the 1975-76 season and spent its first three varsity campaigns as an independent. The Raiders were members of the Ohio Valley Conference from 1978-79 until 1999-2000. Along the way, Middle Tennessee has now won 19 regular-season conference titles and earned NCAA Tournament bids on 16 occasions.
For tickets to Wednesday's game, 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).