March 23, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's basketball team will look to make program history when the Green Wave head to Fayetteville, Ark., for the second round of the 2013 WNIT where they will take on host Arkansas at 2 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.
The Wave head to "The Natural State" 23-8 on the year and fresh off a 65-57 opening-round win over Sam Houston State on Thursday night in Devlin Fieldhouse. Tulane, however, has never advanced beyond the second round of any postseason tournament, and the Green Wave have their eye on accomplishing a program first against the Razorbacks.
"We always get stuck in the second round," Tulane senior wing Janique Kautsky said. "No Tulane women's basketball team has been past the second round. It's a little bit of pressure, but it's also exciting to maybe create history and we're excited for the next game."
Sunday's game will be broadcast live on the flagship radio station of Tulane basketball, The Ticket 106.1 FM, and live audio streaming is also available on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. In addition, live video streaming is available for free via Arkansas' RazorVision Productions and as well as live stats through the ArkanasRazorbacks.com website.
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 66.8 points, 42.0 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 9.2 steals and 4.5 blocks per game. Redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins leads the Tulane offense with 11.5 points per game while senior guard Olivia Grayson and sophomore guard Danielle Blagg follow closely with respective averages of 10.2 and 10.1. Sophomore forward Tiffany Dale paces the squad with 6.8 boards per game to go with a team-best 43 blocked shots, Grayson headlines the defense with 57 steals, and sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan leads the Green Wave with 133 assists.
"I think the challenge in the WNIT is the travel and how you get there," Tulane head women's basketball coach Lisa Stockton said. "Also, everybody is good and you'll play on their court. When we play at Arkansas, it's a tough place to play and we've got to be ready to answer that call. The nice thing is we have played some SEC teams so at least we know how physical the league is and we know a little bit about the league so that helps. I do think our team gets pretty motivated to play an SEC team."
Arkansas, meanwhile, enters the second round of the 2013 WNIT 20-12 on the year with a share of eighth place in the regular-season Southeastern Conference standings with a 6-10 showing in league play. The Razorbacks opened the postseason with a 67-57 home win over Memphis on Thursday night.
As a team, the Razorbacks are averaging 66.9 points, 39.4 rebounds, 15.2 assists, 9.3 steals and 4.0 blocks per contest. Sarah Watkins leads Arkansas in scoring with a 12.8 point-per-game average while Quistelle Williams and Keira Peak follow with averages of 10.4 and 9.2, respectively. Williams paces the squad with 7.1 rebounds per game, Watkins sports a team-high 39 blocked shots and Callie Berna headlines the squad with 204 assists and 66 steals.
Arkansas is hitting 40.6 percent of its shots from the field, connecting on 786-of-1936 attempts, including a 161-of-537 showing from beyond the 3-point stripe (.300) while allowing opponents to tally a 35.9 field goal percentage (654-of-1822) with a 27.6 performance from 3-point land (130-of-471). Razorback foes are averaging 56.8 points, 37.3 rebounds, 11.1 assists, 6.8 steals and 3.0 blocks per game.
Sunday's WNIT match-up marks fourth meeting between Tulane and Arkansas on the hardwood, and the Razorbacks lead the all-time series 3-0. The Green Wave are 0-1 against Arkansas under Stockton with the lone meeting coming on Dec. 28, 1994, when the Razorbacks earned an 83-79 victory at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, La.
The series dates back to Jan. 11, 1980, when Arkansas squeaked out a 66-65 win in New Orleans. The only previous meeting in Fayetteville came on Jan. 19, 1994, when the Razorbacks earned a 71-59 victory.
While the Green Wave have not played the Razorbacks since Stockton's first year at the helm of the program, Tulane is not unfamiliar with SEC opponents. During the 2012-13 season, the Wave split a pair of games against SEC foes, falling at home to Auburn, 70-65, on Nov. 28 and earning a 66-64 overtime victory at LSU on Dec. 9.
Tulane is 0-8 all-time beyond the first round of postseason play, going 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament and 0-5 in the WNIT. In addition, the Green Wave have never won a postseason contest on their opponents court, going 0-8 in true "road" games.
In each of the last three WNIT runs, Tulane fell at Mississippi State on March 18, 2007, 79-73, at Oral Roberts on March 21, 2011, 92-86, and at Texas Tech on March 18, 2012, 69-55. The Green Wave's other two WNIT losses came during the team's initial postseason trip in 1994 as Tulane fell to Arkansas State, 72-66, on March 25 and to Pittsburgh, 71-66, on March 26. Both of those games were played in Amarillo, Texas, when the then-NWIT played a round-robin format.
"It's exciting," Green Wave senior guard Tyria Snow added. "We get to play an SEC school, but we're just excited and ready to play. Hopefully we can get past the second round since we haven't been able to do that the last two years."
The winner of Sunday's Tulane/Arkansas contest will advance to the third round of the WNIT where it will take on the winner of the Auburn/Western Kentucky contest. Game times, dates and locations for the third-round contests are still yet to be determined.