Senior wing Janique Kautsky and the Tulane women's basketball team will play for the Conference USA title when they wrap up the regular season on Friday at UTEP.
March 8, 2013
EL PASO, Texas - As practice began for the 2012-13 season, the Tulane University women's basketball team received a vote of confidence as the Green Wave were picked by the league's coaches to win the regular-season title. Tulane will have a chance to prove the preseason prognosticators correct as the Green Wave have a chance to take home the Conference USA title with a win in the regular-season finale on Friday, March 8, when they take on defending conference champion UTEP at 8 p.m. (CST) in the Don Haskins Center.
At 22-6 overall, 11-4 in league play and riding the crest of a four-game winning streak with consecutive victories over UAB, Tulsa SMU and Southern Miss, the Green Wave got some good news on Thursday night as league-leading SMU dropped a 58-46 decision at Rice. The loss by the Mustangs gives Tulane a chance to share the C-USA regular-season title, but a win may be tough to come by as the Green Wave will face a UTEP squad that is 13-3 at home this year and is set to celebrate "Senior Night".
New Orleans, La.
Short-Handed Women's Basketball Team Downs C-USA Foe UTEP, 56-49
From the start of preseason practice, Tulane University head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton felt one of the strengths of her team heading into the 2012-13 season would be its depth. That feeling proved to be more than accurate on Thursday as the short-handed Green Wave defeated Conference USA foe UTEP, 56-49, in Devlin Fieldhouse.
Friday's game will be broadcast on the flagship radio station of Tulane basketball, The Ticket 106.1 FM, and live audio and video streaming is available on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. In addition, live stats are provided on the web via GameTracker.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 67.4 points, 41.7 rebounds, 16.8 assists, 9.5 steals and 4.4 blocks per game. Redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins leads the Tulane offense with 12.4 points per game while sophomore guard Danielle Blagg and senior guard Olivia Grayson follow with respective scoring averages of 10.7 and 9.4. Sophomore forward Tiffany Dale paces the squad with 6.8 boards per game to go with a team-best 41 blocked shots, Grayson headlines the defense with 54 steals, and sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan leads the Green Wave with 123 assists.
Tulane is connecting at a .410 clip from the field, hitting 694-of-1691 shots from the floor, and 144-of-437 tries from beyond the 3-point arc (.330), while allowing opponents to shoot .371 overall (610-of-1643) and .295 from 3-point land (142-of-482). Green Wave foes are averaging 59.3 points, 36.8 rebounds, 13.0 assists, 8.7 steals and 2.9 blocks so far in 2012-13.
UTEP, meanwhile, enters Friday's ballgame 19-9 on the year, 7-8 in Conference USA play and looking to snap a three-game skid after falling 77-71 at Memphis on Feb. 24, 62-59 at home against Rice on Feb. 28 and 73-71 at SMU on March 3.
As a team, the Miners are averaging 66.0 points, 44.4 rebounds, 14.0 assists, 7.4 steals and 2.1 blocks per contest. Kayla Thornton leads UTEP in scoring with a 15.3 point-per-game average while Anete Steinberga and Chrishauna Parker follow with averages of 15.1 and 9.4, respectively. Parker paces the squad with 9.1 rebounds per game to go with a team-high 117 assists, Thornton headlines the unit with 52 steals, and Destinee Lafountain sports a team-best 18 blocked shots.
UTEP is hitting 38.4 percent of its shots from the field, connecting on 667-of-1737 attempts, including a 136-of-466 showing from beyond the 3-point line (.292) while allowing opponents to tally a 34.3 field goal percentage (557-of-1625) with a 31.7 performance from 3-point land (165-of-520). Miner foes are averaging 58.4 points, 38.1 rebounds, 11.0 assists, 7.1 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.
Friday's game marks 18th meeting between Tulane and UTEP on the hardwood, and the Green Wave trail 8-9 in the all-time series. Tulane is 7-9 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 Tulane won an 86-61 contest in then-Fogelman Arena and are 3-4 against the Miners in El Paso, Texas. The Green Wave dropped their last two road game against the Miners, falling 65-61 on Feb. 13, 2011, and 80-65 on Feb. 12, 2012. Tulane's last road over UTEP came in the 2009-10 regular-season finale when the Green Wave clinched the outright C-USA title with a 66-64 victory on March 3, 2010.
The Green Wave won the initial head-to-head meeting with UTEP during the 2012-13 season, snapping a four-game skid against the Miners with a 56-49 victory back on Feb. 7 in Devlin Fieldhouse.
Following Friday's regular-season finale, Tulane will head to Tulsa, Okla., for the 2013 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship, which will run from March 13-16. Already armed with a first-round bye and assured of at least the tournament's No. 3 seed, the Green Wave will look to advance to the title game for the fourth-consecutive season and claim their first title since 2010. The winner of the C-USA Championship receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.