Tulane faces Temple in key AAC women’s clash _lowres

Tulane guard Leslie Vorpahl talks with a referee during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. Florida State defeated Tulane 78-72. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

There have been games featuring opponents this season that the Tulane’s women’s basketball team definitely has considered as big challenges.

When the Green Wave (15-5, 6-2) plays Temple (11-7, 5-2) on Tuesday night at Fogelman Arena, it will be between two teams fighting for second place in the American Atheltic Conference, where three-time defending national champion Connecticut winning the conference title is a given.

“We just want to get in that second, third spot behind UConn,” Wave shooting guard Kolby Morgan said. “That’s been our focus throughout the season.”

Point guard Leslie Vorpahl, noting that Tulane and Temple split two games last season, said the game’s importance is magnified by it being at home. The Wave is 10-1 at home. Overall, Tulane has won five of its past six games.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “We have been playing well at home, and it’s fun to have that vibe from the fans. We can use that to win.”

The Owls come in having lost their past two games — a 104-49 blowout at UConn on Jan. 16 followed by a six-point loss at rival Penn on Thursday.

The Owls’ other conference loss was at SMU on Jan. 5 in which they were outrebounded 53-40 and lost depite getting 18 steals.

One of the most impressive developments in Tulane’s 78-73 win over East Carolina on Saturday was the Wave, seventh in the 11-team AAC in rebounding, won that battle 36-28. Tulane pulled down a surprising 13 offensive rebounds.

Even more surprising was that Morgan and Vorpahl, who combined for 45 points, were at the center of it. They grabbed six rebounds each, one behind freshman forward Meredith Schulte. Morgan had four offensive rebounds.

“We’re near the bottom of the rankings in that category, so it’s something the coaches emphasize in practice all the time,” Morgan said.

Other than helping the Wave’s front court, Vorpahl said there are other benefits when the backcourt hit the boards.

“When Kolby gets offensive rebounds, it gets her going (scoring-wise),” Vorpahl said. “When I get it and go, it helps in transition for us.”

The two say guard-oriented Temple provides a different challenge than most conference teams.

“From last year, I know they like to get the ball and go,” Morgan said.