March 12, 2014
EL PASO, Texas - After two days of scoreboard watching, the Tulane University women's basketball team will open play in the 2014 Conference USA Championship on Thursday, March 13, when the Green Wave take on the FIU Panthers, at 2:30 p.m. (CDT) in Memorial Gym.
Coming off a regular season which saw the Wave go 20-9 overall and finish fourth in the conference standings with an 11-5 league record, Tulane earned a double-bye. FIU, meanwhile, claimed a spot in Thursday's quarterfinal matchup by posting its second upset in as many days with an 87-75 win over East Carolina during Wednesday's second-round contest.
Balanced Attack Leads Women's Basketball Past FIU, 66-55
Junior forward Tiffany Dale posted a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead a balanced Green Wave attack as the Tulane University women's basketball team defeated Conference USA newcomer FIU, 66-55, on Saturday afternoon in Devlin Fieldhouse.
Wednesday's Tulane/FIU matchup will be broadcast live on the flagship radio station of Green Wave women's basketball, WRBH 88.3 FM, and live audio streaming is available online at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. Video streaming will be provided on the web through the C-USA Digital Network and live stats are available on the Internet for free via GrameTracker.
Tulane enters the 2014 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship averaging 69.1 points, 41.4 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 9.4 steals and 4.2 blocks per game. Junior guard Danielle Blagg leads the Tulane offense with 12.6 points per game while junior forward Tiffany Dale and junior point guard Jamie Kaplan follow with respective scoring averages of 11.8 and 11.7. Dale paces the squad with 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, 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.
"Our advantage in this is that we have different players that can step up on any given night," Stockton said. "Some people have a big bench. Some people have a superstar that can do it. I think our advantage is that we can have a different leading scorer every night. Sometimes, that's what you need in a tournament. Teams are going to turn around in one night, create a scouting report and try and change what you do in what area. But it's hard to change what you do in all areas. Our balance is one of our great strengths."
FIU, the championship's No. 13 seed, enters Thursday's quarterfinals contest with a head of steam after knocking off 12th-seeded Rice on Tuesday, 85-65, before taking down No. 5 seed East Carolina on Wednesday. The Panthers are now 14-17 on the year and feature one of the premier scorers in the history of women's college basketball in Jerica Coley.
After scoring a game-high 42 points during FIU's win over the Pirates, Coley now ranks fifth in NCAA history with 3,054 career points. In the lone regular-season matchup, Tulane defeated the Panthers 66-55 back on Feb. 15 in New Orleans.
"We've played them more recently, so this is a team that should be much fresher on our minds," Stockton said. "We played a very good second half against them at our place. They're a team that has already played two games in a row and you certainly hope fatigue can come into play. They're playing with a lot of adrenalin, a lot of energy and a lot of confidence."
With all 16 teams making the C-USA Tournament, Tulane is 11-5 against the tourney field, including a 4-3 mark against its side of the bracket with 1-0 records against No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic, No. 12 seed Rice, No. 13 seed FIU and No. 16 seed Marshall to go with 0-1 marks against top-seeded Middle Tennessee and No. 8 seed UAB.
The Green Wave are 7-2 against the other half of the bracket with 1-0 records against No. 6 seed Charlotte, No. 7 seed Old Dominion, No. 10 seed Tulsa, No. 11 seed North Texas, No. 14 seed Louisiana Tech and No. 15 seed UTSA, a 1-1 mark against No. 2 seed Southern Miss and an 0-1 mark vs No. 3 seed UTEP.
Since the inception of Conference USA prior to the 1995-96 season, Tulane is 27-12 in Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship play and came home with the tourney title in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2010.
In addition, the Green Wave advanced to the championship game three other times, falling to Cincinnati 68-56 on March 4, 2002, in Chicago, Ill., to UCF 85-73 on March 12, 2011, in El Paso, Texas, and to UTEP 69-65 on March 10, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn.
"Sometimes the first [game] is the toughest," Stockton added. "If you can get that first win behind you, it gives you a little confidence, you on to the next one and you're right there. You're two games away from a championship. We've obviously trying to get ready quickly. It's a quick turnaround for both of these teams tomorrow. We just need to play well. We've done some good things in the later part of the season and we need to keep doing that."
The winner of Thursday's four quarterfinal contests will advance to the semifinals, which are slated for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 14, in the Don Haskins Center. The victors of those two games will play for the C-USA Championship title on Saturday at 7 p.m. and the winner will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.