Dec. 28, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's basketball team returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 29, when the Green Wave play host to Eastern Michigan, McNeese State and Ole Miss in the 17th Annual Tulane/DoubleTree Classic in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Wave open tournament play at 1 p.m. when they square off against the Eastern Michigan Eagles while McNeese State will face Ole Miss in the nightcap at 3 p.m. The two-day event concludes on Sunday with the consolation game at 1 p.m. while the championship contest is scheduled to tip off at 3 p.m. Live stats for all four games are available on the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com via GameTracker while live audio and video for both Tulane games will be streamed on-line to paid members of the All-Access Pass.
"I think it's special when you have a corporate sponsor that's been with you as long as they have. They've done a tremendous job. Our teams over the years have loved staying at the DoubleTree and have had such great experiences here. Keeping the same sponsor and having that name has kept that tournament name alive. I think people who have come to this tournament, remembered it as the DoubleTree and recommended it to others. That's how we've been able to attract such quality teams."
Tulane enters the weekend 8-2 on the year and looking to build on the momentum of a 73-62 home win over North Texas on Dec. 22. As a team, the Green Wave are averaging 68.2 points, 44.0 rebounds, 17.4 assists, 9.7 steals and 4.9 blocks per game.
Redshirt-sophomore forward Whitney Bibbins leads the Tulane offense with 14.3 points per game while senior guard Olivia Grayson and and sophomore guard Danielle Blagg follow with identical scoring averages of 9.5 each. Grayson leads the team in rebounds with 6.7 per game and also headlines the club with 21 steals. Sophomore forward Tiffany Dale paces the squad with 14 blocked shots while sophomore guard Jamie Kaplan has a team-best 43 assists.
Tulane is connecting at a .398 clip from the field, hitting 245-of-615 shots from the floor, and 52-of-159 shots from beyond the 3-point arc (.327), while allowing opponents to shoot .383 overall (222-of-579) and .299 from 3-point land (44-of-147). Green Wave foes are averaging 60.0 points, 35.3 rebounds, 13.6 assists, 9.8 steals and 3.6 blocks so far in 2012-13.
"I think we're coming along," Stockton said of her team's progress to date. "Our defense has improved and that was a concern at the beginning of the year. Offensively, I feel that we had a good performance in our last game. We were able to get some rhythm going to our offense. Putting all these players on the court at different times and at different positions has certainly been a big task, but I think we're really coming together."
Eastern Michigan, meanwhile, comes to town 2-8 on the year and - like Tulane - looking to build on a 74-69 win at UMKC its last time out on Dec. 15. As a team, the Eagles are averaging 56.2 points, 38.8 rebounds, 11.7 assists, 7.4 steals and 1.9 blocks per contest.
Miranda Tate leads Eastern Washington with 13.7 points per game while Olivia Fouty and Natachia Watkins follow with scoring averages of 10.7 and 9.5, respectively. Fouty paces the team with 8.3 rebounds per game and seven total blocks while Desyree Thomas leads the way with 34 assists and 21 steals.
Eastern Michigan is hitting 35.1 percent of its shots from the field, connecting on 214-of-609 attempts, including a 39-of-133 showing from beyond the 3-point line (.293) while allowing opponents to tally a 40.9 field goal percentage (226-of-553) with a 31.8 performance from 3-point land (67-of-211). Eagles' foes are averaging 62.9 points, 38.1 rebounds, 14.3 assists, 6.9 steals and 5.1 blocks per game.
"They've had a tough schedule and I don't think their record is an indication of how strong they are," Stockton said. "They do a nice job. They've got some size, they're able to isolate some people inside and they're going to throw a lot of traps and things at us, so we're going to have to be prepared. They're primarily a zone team, which we've played against quite a bit, and they are a very good opponent."
While Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan marks the first time the Green Wave and the Eagles will square off on the hardwood, the Green Wave are a combined 8-13 against the rest of the field. Tulane is 6-12 against McNeese State and 2-1 vs. Ole Miss.
McNeese State (4-5) won the first 10 head-to-head meetings, but after splitting the next four games, Tulane has now won the last four match-ups with the Cowgirls. The Wave are 5-4 against McNeese State in New Orleans, including a 75-45 decision during the Cowgirls' last visit on Dec. 22, 2009.
Ole Miss (6-5), meanwhile, won the first meeting with Tulane 81-51 on Dec. 10, 1994, but the Wave posted a 69-54 home win on Nov. 30, 1996, and a 68-55 road decision on Nov. 21, 1997.
"In any kind of tournament, you've got to prepare for everyone," Stockton added. "We don't prepare until our game is over but McNeese was an NCAA (Tournament) team last year and Ole Miss is an SEC opponent that is always a quality opponent. We're going to have to be ready to play either one of those and it'll be two really good games this weekend."
The 2012 Tulane/Doubletree Classic marks the 17th consecutive year the Green Wave host the tournament. Tulane is now 29-3 all-time in the event, winning the team title from 1996-2002 and again in 2004, 2006 and from 2008-11. The Wave won their first 14 DoubleTree Classic contests before falling to Marist in the 2003 opener, 60-46, on Dec. 27. Tulane won the event two of the next five seasons before posting consecutive championships the last four years.
All of Tulane's losses in the DoubleTree Classic have come in the first day as the Green Wave are a perfect 15-0 in day two - 12-0 in championship games and 3-0 in consolation contests.
The Tulane/DoubleTree Classic marks the midway point of a six-game homestand for Tulane as the Green Wave will play host to Loyola-New Orleans on Jan. 7 and open the Conference USA portion of its schedule against SMU on Jan. 10.
For tickets to those games, as well as future Green Wave events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.