Nov. 18, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's basketball team will look to start the season 3-0 for the second consecutive season and pick up a win over an in-state rival for the second time in as many meetings when the Green Wave take on No. 20 LSU on Saturday, Nov. 19, in Fogelman Arena. Tipoff for that game is slated for 7 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans on hand will receive a complimentary Tulane Rally Towel.
The Wave enter the game 2-0 on the year with a 74-49 season-opening win over Loyola on Nov. 11 and a 62-45 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Monday. A year ago, Tulane went to LSU and snapped the Tigers' 33-game winning streak against state opponents with a 54-52 decision on Nov. 23, 2010. Since then, however, the Green Wave graduated four seniors and now sport seven freshmen on the 2011-12 roster while LSU has a new head coach in Nikki Caldwell, who guided UCLA to a combined 72-26 record and two trips to the NCAA Tournament over the last three seasons.
"I think you can take a lot away from that game because a lot of their players return," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said of last year's win in Baton Rouge. "Obviously they'll run different things, but I've been here a long time and the Tulane/LSU game is always the same in that it's tremendously competitive. It's a game that our kids will be excited for.
"Sometimes the non-conference schedule tends to not have a game you're focused on just because it's against various teams. A lot of these players know each other, there's a lot of familiarity between the two schools and it's a lot of fun. Sometimes games like this, especially early in the season when neither team knows a lot about each other, you just have to go out there and play basketball."
As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 68.0 points, 54.5 rebounds, 16.5 assists, 13.0 steals and 8.0 blocks per game. Junior guard Olivia Grayson leads the team with 14.0 points per game followed by freshmen forwards Tiffany Dale and Danielle Blagg with averages of 13.0 and 10.0, respectively. Senior Brett Benzio has a team-best 10.5 rebounds per game and paces the squad with five blocks. Grayson leads the Wave with 13 assists and 10 steals.
Tulane connected at a .373 clip from the field in 2011-12, hitting 53-of-142 shots from the floor, and 7-of-30 shots from beyond the 3-point arc (.233), while allowing opponents to shoot .250 overall (31-of-124) and .250 from 3-point land (8-of-36). Green Wave opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 47.0 points, 44.5 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 13.5 steals and 4.0 blocks so far in 2011-12.
"I think good offensive players are always good offensive players," Stockton said. "It's just finding out what their shots are and what can they make percentage wise. It's all a percentage game. When you give our players the shots that they can make with the rhythm and the timing, we're probably a better offensive team in numbers than we were last year. It's just the know-how that we don't have.
"Last year, we had two fifth-year seniors, we had a lot of experience, they knew each other and they knew their game really well. For us right now, everybody is just trying to find their own game."
LSU, meanwhile, comes to town 2-0 on the year after downing Wichita State 64-56 on March 14 and handing No. 14 Georgetown a 51-40 loss on Nov. 16.
As a team, the Tigers are averaging 57.5 points, 40.0 rebounds, 12.5 assists, 10.5 steals and 4.0 blocks per game. LaSondra Barrett leads the team with 13.5 points per game while Jeanne Kenney and Destini Hughes follow with averages 9.0 and 7.0, respectively. Courntey Jones leads the squad with 7.0 rebounds per gameand shares team-high blocks honors along with Barrett and Krystal Forthan at two each. Kenney leads the team with seven assists and Hughes headlines the club with five steals.
LSU is hitting 46.5 percent of its shots from the field, connecting on 40-of-86 attempts, including a 10-of-24 showing from beyond the 3-point line (.417). The Tigers' defense has held opponents to a 27.6 shooting percentage (35-of-127) and a 23.3 clip from 3-point land (14-of-60). LSU opponents are averaging 48.0 points, 40.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 12.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.
"They have great size and they have a lot of experience," Stockton said. "I've known Nikki Caldwell many years and I know she'll do a great job out there. I'm more concerned about us. We've got to play better than we've played. We've got to have a consistent 40 minutes with consistent shot selection. For us to have a chance at them, we've got to play better and we've got to get better in these next three games."
Saturday night's game marks the 32nd all-time meeting between Tulane and LSU on the hardwood, and the Tigers hold a commanding 27-4 advantage in the all-time series. Under Stockton, the Green Wave are 4-11 vs. LSU, including last year's win.
In the latest meeting in Fogelman Arena, Tulane took LSU to overtime, but the Tigers outlasted the Green Wave 73-65 on Nov. 25, 2009. The Green Wave are just 2-13 against the Tigers in New Orleans and the previous two wins were a 65-54 decision on Nov. 29, 1997 and a 76-72 victory on Dec. 31, 1999.
Following the matchup with LSU, Tulane will close out a four-game homestand to open the season when the Green Wave take on cross-town foe UNO on Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. From there, the Wave will head south of the border for the Cancun Challenge where Tulane will take on Purdue and Idaho State in Mexico on Nov. 24 and 25, respectively.
For tickets information to all Green Wave home events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office either in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com. The Ticket Office located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center on Ben Weiner Drive, is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.