Tulane was sailing along in its American Athletic Conference game against Houston on Saturday at Fogelman Arena. Then, the bottom fell out.
Besieged by foul trouble, the Green Wave blew a 16-point late third-quarter lead and its way to a 98-92 loss in overtime.
“I think we played our heart out,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “Obviously, I think foul trouble was very significant for us two-fold. We didn't have some people on the floor and also putting them on the free-throw line 37 times. That was really hard to overcome.”
The loss dropped Tulane (9-7) to 1-2 in conference.
The combination of quick whistles by the officials — on both teams — and the Houston guards' quickness enabled the Cougars (14-3, 3-0) to storm back. Cougars' shooting guard Jasmyne Harris scored a game-high 34 points, including 6-of-8 3-point shooting, and had 11 rebounds and eight assists. Power forward Serithia Hawkins benefited from the drives by Harris and forward Dorian Branch and had 25 points and 10 rebounds.
“Jasmyne is our Kolby Morgan,” Houston coach Ronald Hughes said. “She's a dynamic player, and she came to play today. (Hawkins) is just 6-feet, but she has a huge heart.”
Morgan had 30 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for Tulane. However, she fouled out with 25.6 seconds left in overtime on a charging call with Houston leading 93-92.
She received a controversial fourth foul with 30.7 seconds left when Harris got an offensive rebound and Tulane guard Cayla Cruickshank was called for an over-the-back foul. An official signaled "one, three (13)," which is Cruickshank's number. However, another official relayed the foul to the official scorer as No. 3, Morgan's number. Morgan was on the opposite side of the court when the foul occurred.
Four Tulane starters fouled out — Morgan, power forward Meredith Schulte, center Harlyn Wyatt and and freshman point guard Kaila Anderson, who was a starter for the time. Small forward Tene Thompson missed her fifth consecutive game with a knee injury.
One Houston player — Branch — fouled out, although five ended up with four fouls.
Tulane led by 21 points — 48-27 — after Wyatt scored in the lane at 8:27 of the third. With 3:20 left in the quarter, the Wave was ahead 64-48 after a 3-pointer by freshman Sierra Cheatham, who scored 14 points.
The Cougars outscored the Wave 9-1 the rest of the quarter and trailed 65-57 at the end of the third. Another 9-1 burst to start the fourth tied the score at 66-66 at the 7:04 mark. The score was tied five more times before the game went to overtime.
Tulane led 92-90 with 31.4 seconds left when Hawkins made a putback, tying the score a final time. After the controversial foul on Morgan, Jasmyne Harris sank a free throw. After Morgan's charging foul, Harris made two free throws for a 95-92 lead with 22.0 left. Hawkins made two more when she was fouled after Cheatham missed an attempt at a tying 3-pointer.
Tulane seemed in total control with a 44-27 lead as it beat Houston's vaunted press easily for baskets. Ironically, Hughes called off the press, he said, because Branch and both Harrises had three fouls at the half. The Cougars went to a half-court man-to-man the rest of the way.
The Wave, which had beaten Houston the past seven consecutive times they met, had a 54-36 edge in rebounding. However, the Cougars were 10-of-24 on 3-point attempts to Tulane's 3-of-20, and the Wave was whistled for 32 fouls.