Tulane's women's basketball team practiced all week on getting back to playing the good defense it showed during its non-conference schedule and having that provide better offensive opportunities.
That was clearly evident Sunday at Devlin Fieldhouse, as the Green Wave overwhelmed Tulsa 70-39 in an American Athletic Conference game.
The Wave (10-9, 2-4) snapped a three-game conference losing streak by holding the Golden Hurricane (8-12, 2-5) to 22.6 percent shooting (14 of 62), including 2 of 24 on 3-point attempts. No Tulsa player scored in double figures.
“I thought we set a tone from the beginning,” said coach Lisa Stockton, whose team swept the season series against Tulsa. “We did a nice job of guarding the 3s early. … I think we really needed a win. It's hard to be confident if you don't win, and we battled today.”
Tulane also had a 46-34 rebounding advantage, led by center Harlyn Wyatt with nine. With Tulane playing zone defenses to limit Tulsa's penetrators, Wyatt's defense in the lane was key as the Wave denied Tulsa open 3-point opportunities.
“We worked on our defense, and everybody held themselves accountable about keeping their person in front of them,” Wyatt said. “It was all individual work for the team defense.”
And that led to solid offense. Kolby Morgan shot just 5 of 16 but scored a game-high 17 points and was instrumental in the Wave getting off to a good start. Playing a season-high 27 minutes, guard Tatyana Lofton, a junior-college transfer, scored a season-high 13 points. Eleven Tulane players scored.
Tulane had 20 assists in shooting 26 of 55 (47.3). Lofton led the way with her driving, as the Wave scored 38 points in the lane, nearly matching Tulsa's total output, which is a season low.
“With our team, it's all about making shots early, and we obviously didn't make them,” Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman said. “And we have a tendency to get our heads down. But Tulane's zone was very effective against us. They were able to dictate our offense, and they weren't giving us anything easy.”
The Wave had an easy time in taking a 37-16 halftime lead. Tulsa was held to 8-of-32 shooting in the first half, including 0 of 12 from 3-point range. Tulane was particularly busy defensively, with Wyatt controlling the lane.
The defense got Tulane's offense in transition, and even when it didn't get layups off the break, its ball movement put pressure on Tulsa's defensive rotations. The Wave had 10 assists on 13-of-27 shooting, including a torrid 5-of-10 on 3s.
Morgan, who scored five points in launching a 12-0 first-quarter run for a 14-4 lead, scored 12 points in the half, and Lofton had 10 on 4-of-5 shooting.
Tulane outscored Tulsa 12-2 during the final 4:56 of the first half.
The Wave switched to a 1-2-2 press to start the third and led 42-23 midway through the quarter. Power forward Meredith Schulte and point guard Kayla Manuirirangi then had back-to-back three-point plays, pushing the lead to a 25-point bulge.