Women's Hoops To Open WNIT Thursday At Mississippi State

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl and the Green Wave open play in the 2014 WNIT on Thursday night at Mississippi State.
Freshman guard Leslie Vorpahl and the Green Wave open play in the 2014 WNIT on Thursday night at Mississippi State.

March 19, 2014

Video Interview With Coach Stockton
Coach Stockton's Comments Heading Into The 2014 WNIT Opener
Tulane Game Notes
Mississippi State Game Notes

NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's basketball team will open play in the 2014 WNIT on Thursday, March 20, when the Green Wave travel to Starkville, Miss., to take on Mississippi State at 7 pm. in Humphrey Coliseum.

The trip to the WNIT is the fourth in as many years for Tulane following a trip to the round of 16 in 2013 and consecutive 1-1 showings in both 2011 and 2012. The Green Wave's current postseason streak began in 2010 with an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. It is also the program's 16th overall postseason bid - 15 of which have come under head coach Lisa Stockton's direction - and sixth trip to the WNIT as Tulane also played in the event in 1994 and 2007.

The Last Meeting
Mississippi State70
December 4, 2011
Starkville, Miss.
Women's Basketball Falls At Mississippi State, 70-55
Freshman forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi recorded the first double-double of her career with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but it was not enough as the Tulane University women's basketball team dropped a 70-55 decision to Mississippi State Sunday afternoon at the Humphrey Center.

"We're certainly excited to be playing in the postseason," Stockton said. "Starting out with an SEC opponent and a strong Mississippi State team, it's going to be a fun matchup. It's going to be one that we're really going to have to be ready to play.

"When you play the quality of teams we've got ahead of us in this WNIT, you've got to take it one game at a time. You've got to go out and try and play your best game every night. It's a little different pressure than trying to get seeded for a conference tournament. You know that when you lose, you're done. Hopefully that'll give us some motivation to play a little harder."

Thursday's Green Wave/Bulldogs matchup will be broadcast live on the flagship radio station of Tulane women's basketball, WRBH 88.3 FM, and both live audio and video are available on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. In addition, live stats are provided for free on the web via GameTracker.

Tulane heads to Starkville, Miss., 20-10 on the year, a fourth-place finish in the regular-season Conference USA standings courtesy of an 11-5 league record. The Green Wave have lost their last three games, including a 69-55 decision to FIU in the C-USA Championship quarterfinals last Thursday night in El Paso, Texas.



As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 68.7 points, 41.2 rebounds, 16.3 assists, 8.2 steals and 4.1 blocks per game. Junior guard Danielle Blagg leads the Tulane offense with 12.1 points per game while junior forward Tiffany Dale and junior point guard Jamie Kaplan follow closely with respective scoring averages of 12.0 and 11.5. Dale paces the squad with 8.2 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.

Tulane is connecting at a .417 clip from the field, hitting 731-of-1752 shots from the floor, and 147-of-458 tries from beyond the 3-point arc (.321), while allowing opponents to shoot .385 overall (683-of-1776) and .296 from 3-point land (165-of-558). Green Wave foes are averaging 63.3 points, 37.1 rebounds, 13.5 assists, 8.1 steals and 2.8 blocks per game so far in 2013-14.

"We've had a tough schedule," Stockton said. "Along the way we've done some good things and some not so good things. This is the start of a new season. We've talked about this being our fourth season. This is the postseason so we're re-gearing. With a team that is returning so many players like we're returning next year, we can use this for momentum going into next year."

Mississippi State, meanwhile, enters the postseason 19-13 overall and 5-11 in Southeastern Conference action, which had the Bulldogs tied for 13th in the regular-season league standings. MSU won its SEC Tournament opener against Missouri, 73-70, but dropped a 71-67 decision in the second round to Florida back on March 6.

As a team, the Bulldogs are averaging 71.3 points, 38.6 rebounds, 14.4 assists, 9.9 steals and 4.2 blocks per contest. Martha Alwal leads the Mississippi State offense with 15.3 points per game while Kendra Grant and Breanna Richardson follow with marks of 11.1 and 9.2, respectively. Alwal also paces the Bulldogs with 8.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per outing while Katia May paces the squad with 5.1 assists per contest and Savannah Carter averages a team-best 2.2 steals per game.

Mississippi State is hitting 40.3 percent of its shots from the field, connecting on 778-of-1929 attempts, including a 105-of-330 showing from beyond the 3-point line (.318) while allowing opponents to tally a 40.7 field goal percentage (691-of-1697) with a 32.8 performance from 3-point land (121-of-369). Bulldogs' foes are averaging 63.4 points, 36.2 rebounds, 11.3 assists, 8.4 steals and 4.0 blocks per game.

"They have a dominant post player who leads the league in blocked shots and she's their leading scorer," Stockton said. "Handling a big player like that and being able to contain her a little bit is one key. Another is their defense. They use a pressure defense and they're going to try and create steals. We're going to have to work for our shots and use screens. Their defense really is their trademark and we're going to have to handle that."

Thursday's game marks 10th meeting between Tulane and Mississippi State on the hardwood, and the Green Wave hold a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series. Tulane is 3-2 against Mississippi State under Stockton.

The series with the Bulldogs dates back to a 66-58 road loss on Feb. 27, 1988. Tulane is 2-3 against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., including an 0-1 mark in the postseason. The Green Wave's wins at State came in a 92-84 decision on Jan. 25, 1994 and a 71-63 contest on Dec. 9, 1995.

The Green Wave have now dropped two of their last three head-to-head matchups with the Bulldogs with their most recent win being a 62-42 victory on Nov. 16, 2010, in New Orleans. Tulane fell at Mississippi State in the second round of the 2007 WNIT, 79-73, and lost the most recent outing, 70-55, in Starkville on Dec. 4, 2011. While the WNIT game will be the first official meeting between the two teams this season, Tulane and Mississippi State did meet in the preseason in a scrimmage situation.

"I think that both teams are different than we were when we played back on October," Stockton added. "At least our players have matched up with them. They are familiar a little bit with their personnel and how they play. We can go back and look at the mistakes we made - both the good things and the bad things - from the scrimmage. We can also see how they've evolved. This can definitely be an advantage."

The winner of the Tulane/Mississippi State contest will advance to take on the winner of the Southern Miss/Lamar game, which will take place on Thursday in Hattiesburg, Miss, at a date and location yet to be determined. All WNIT games are played at home sites and the six-round, single-elimination event will culminated with the championship game on Saturday, April 5. That contest will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.