Tulane was held in check by Saint Louis in the first half Monday.
However, the Green Wave snapped out of the doldrums in the third quarter on its way to a 66-58 victory in the Tulane Classic championship game at Fogelman Arena.
The win was the sixth in a row for Tulane (9-3) and pushed its home record to 7-0 heading into the Christmas break. The Green Wave’s next game is its American Athletic Conference opener on Dec. 30 vs. Houston.
“We beat a very good team,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “The first half, our defense was very good; we just weren’t shooting the ball very well. The second half, I thought our third quarter might be the best basketball we’ve played.”
Guard Courtnie Latham led Tulane with 23 points, Tierra Jones had 10 points and 15 rebounds, and Chinwe Duru had 10 points and eight rebounds. Point guard Jackie Kemph led the Billikens (9-2) with 17 points.
The Wave opened the third on a 10-0 run with all five starters scoring in taking a 33-27 lead. Tulane outscored Saint Louis 21-10 in the quarter to lead 44-37 at its end.
It’s 1-3-1 halfcourt zone proving effective again, Tulane held the Billikens to 0-of-6 on 3-point attempts. The Wave shot 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) overall in the quarter.
“We talked about it at halftime, that we couldn’t come out and lay an egg,” Saint Louis coach Lisa Stone said. “We got real stagnant against the zone. We shot the ball poorly from the 3-point line.”
From 2:08 of the third quarter to 6:29 of the fourth, Tulane held Saint Louis to two points, as the lead grew to 50-39. A key point came at 8:37 of the fourth, when Jones scored on a putback, and a technical foul was assessed against Billikens power forward Denisha Womack. Latham sank the two technical foul shots, and the sequence gave Tulane a 48-39 advantage.
After that, the Wave led by 10 three times before Saint Louis closed to 61-56 with 49.6 seconds left. Latham made four free throws to seal the victory.
North Carolina-Greensboro beat Cleveland State 55-51 in the consolation game, as forward Shanese Harris scored the last five points of the game in the final 13 seconds. Harris had a steal and three-point play with 13 seconds left, then rebounded a missed layup, again went coast-to-coast for a basket and was fouled with seconds left, sealing the win.
Cleveland State (3-7) led 39-23 with six minutes left in the third quarter. Over the next 9 minutes, 36 seconds, however, UNCG (6-7) outscored the Vikings 18-5 to pull to 44-41 at 6:24 of the fourth quarter. The Spartans didn’t take the lead until Harris’ three-point play in the waning seconds.
“We just showed a tremendous amount of heart, which I think will be huge for us going forward,” said UNC-Greensboro coach Wendy Palmer, her team holding the Vikings to 5-of-24 3-point shooting. “We switched from a press to a 1-3-1 zone, and that was very effective for us.”