The Tulane Green Wave women's basketball team will play host to Wichita State on Saturday looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking overtime home loss to Houston.
It will be the second of a stretch in which four of five American Athletic Conference games are at Fogelman Arena, Tulane's best such conference stretch of the season. It's an opportunity the Green Wave (9-7, 1-2) likely can't afford to squander.
Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said it's important her team bring forth much of the positives from its past few games, including the loss to Houston. However, Stockton sent clips of the game to the conference officials office.
“We just felt there were things to be looked at,” she said. “It was such a heart-breaking loss, but I thought our effort was great and we did a lot of good things. We were aggressive on the rebounds, we got good contributions most of the first half from the bench. So, there were a lot of things that were working for us.”
Wichita State (6-12, 1-3), which is in its first season in the AAC under first-year coach Keitha Adams, has had its struggles this season. The Shockers have had losing streaks of six and four. They lost their first three conference games before beating Memphis 69-61 on Wednesday.
“They're a team that has a lot of seniors and could be kind of finding their rhythm as the season goes on with a new coach,” Stockton said.
The Shockers are led by 6-foot-1 forward Rangie Bessard, who averages 18.9 points an 7.8 rebounds per game. Both guards — Diamond Lockhart ad Keke Thompson — are seniors, as well as their top reserve, 6-2 forward Angiee Thompkins (9.5 points, 5.6 rebounds).
“(Bessard) is a dynamic player,” Stockton said. “She can score in a lot of ways. She can post up or she can shoot the 15-footer.
“Getting defensive rebounds will be important because they're a good offensive team, and we don't want to give them more chances.”
Wichita State outrebounded Memphis 39-25, including a 15-9 edge in offensive rebounds. Tulane beat up Houston 54-36 on the boards.
However, the Shockers went 0-for-11 on 3-point attempts against Memphis, and they have shot just 23.1 percent (50-of-216) this season. Opponents also have made 6.4 3-pointers per game against Wichita State. Tulane has shown it can get 3-point shooting from as many as four players.
The Shockers like to drive to the basket and pass to their front line, which is not big but is athletic. Keeping their guards out of the lane will be a main challenge.
However, Wichita State guards — Lockhart and Thompson — are both 5-5. And, that could be problematic for them. The last time Green Wave leading scorer Kolby Morgan, 5-8, faced smaller guards — at Tulsa — she scored 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting mainly on post-ups and also grabbed nine rebounds.
Morgan enters the game 14 points from becoming the third Tulane player to reach 2,000 points.
The Wave will be without starting small forward Tene Thompson for the sixth consecutive game. Thompson had a knee injury during practice before the Tulane Classic tournament, which took place Dec. 21-22. She is expected to return in a week. Tulane will play at Central Florida on Wednesday and will be at home against Tulsa on Jan. 21.