When Tulane lost at home Wednesday to No. 19 South Florida, which was without its second-best player, the Green Wave missed an opportunity for a quality win and to stay near the top of the American Athletic Conference standings.
As the Wave (12-5, 3-2) looks to bounce back at 1 p.m. Saturday at Tulsa (6-11, 3-3), it will draw from having been in similar situations this season, point guard Leslie Vorpahl said Friday.
The Green Wave beat LSU at home after losing at Florida State. Then, after losing to Rutgers and Green Bay in the Paradise Jam, the Wave beat Virginia. And after an AAC setback at Memphis, Tulane won two days later at East Carolina.
“Each time, we just really got it together and came out and kind of found ourselves,” Vorpahl said. “We knew how we could play, and we went back to who we are and what Tulane basketball is. I think we actually have some confidence coming out of (the South Florida) game because we played well. We saw how we can fight.”
Vorpahl had a season-high 26 points in the 71-67 loss, shooting 10-of-18 overall and 6-of-10 on 3-point attempts. She is second on the team in scoring (11.8) behind guard Kolby Morgan (16.4). However, in conference games, Vorpahl leads the team at 15.8 per game, sixth in the AAC, with Morgan eighth at 15.6.
More important, Vorpahl leads the conference in assists: 5.9 overall and 6.8 in AAC games. It takes a balancing act for her to effectively lead the offense and also be the main scorer.
She had just three assists in the South Florida game. The team needs her 3-point shooting (44.4 percent), which often necessitates she play off the ball, with small forward Courtnie Latham playing point guard.
“I played some (shooting guard as a backup) last season,” she said. “I run the plays as (the point guard and the shooting guard) in practice. But I know how to create for my teammates, and I know what they can do and where they like the ball.”
Tulsa has lost three of its past four and is coming off a 55-53 home loss to Cincinnati. Coach Matilda Mossman said the Hurricane had no energy after a three-game road trip that included losses to Connecticut and Temple.
But Tulsa, which is last in the AAC in rebounding, eighth in defense and ninth in scoring, won at Memphis in the last game of the road trip.
“We saw that,” Vorpahl said. “We know any team in this conference can get you.”