On the brink of an early-season crisis, the Tulane men’s basketball team found a way out just in time to avoid an 0-2 start.
After rallying from an eight-point deficit against Drake in the final 7:20 of regulation to send its second consecutive game to overtime, the Green Wave beat Drake 79-74 on Monday night at Devlin Fieldhouse.
LSU transfer Malik Morgan almost won it before the extra session, barely missing a 30-footer at the buzzer, but he would not let the Wave lose after that.
He scored the first basket of overtime on a driving layup, hit a fallaway jumper a little later for a 75-72 lead and sank two free throw with 20.6 seconds left to make the score 78-72 and finally give the Wave a chance to exhale.
Coming off a 68-67 overtime loss to Alabama A&M on Friday, Tulane (1-1) needed this one badly.
Morgan and Louis Dabney paced the Wave with 18 points, but Morgan was much more efficient, sinking 7 of 14 shots, while Dabney went 4 for 15. Post player Jernard Jarreau, who picked up his fourth foul with more than 18 minutes left in regulation, never fouled out and finished with 12 points.
Graham Woodward led Drake (1-1) with 20 points, and Reed Timmer added 19, but the Bulldogs missed five of their first six shots in overtime while committing two turnovers.
Both teams had a chance to win it at the end of regulation. Drake’s Kale Abrahamson launched a 3-pointer too early when the Bulldogs were playing for the final shot, giving Morgan his chance to end it at the buzzer.
For the second straight game, Tulane could not buy a basket at the start. The Wave missed six of its first seven shots before Morgan ended the frigid stretch with a 3-pointer that banked in from the top of the key.
That good fortune allowed the Wave to settle down and hit 50 percent of its shots for the rest of the half.
Jarreau sank a 3-pointer. Freshman Von Julien drove for a layup and hit a 3-pointer. When freshman Blake Paul scored inside for his first points of the season, Tulane led for the first time through two games in the opening half, 23-22.
The Wave extended its advantage to 28-22 on Jarreau’s strong move, completing a 10-0 run, but Drake responded with a 9-1 spurt to go back ahead 31-29.
Dabney’s pair of free throws gave the Wave a 35-33 halftime lead.
Tulane’s freshman played with much more composure than against Alabama A&M. Julien, Kain Harris and Paul combined for 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half.
Drake, which finished third nationally in 3-point percentage a year ago (.408), used the threat of the 3 to get easy buckets on drives. The Bulldogs scored 18 points in the paint during the first half.