When the Tulane women’s basketball team begins play Saturday in the American Athletic Conference tournament against Memphis in Uncasville, Connecticut, shooting guard Kolby Morgan said it’s imperative the Green Wave get off to a fast start.
When the host Tigers (18-11, 12-6) beat the Green Wave (20-10, 11-7) 83-67 on Jan. 3, they shot 50.8 percent, including 55.9 percent in taking a 42-31 halftime lead.
“We have to get off to a fast start, rebound, not foul and keep executing the things we do,” she said.
Tulane finished fifth in the 11-team AAC, and Memphis was fourth. The first five teams had a bye in Friday’s first round.
Morgan is on an impressive streak, having averaged 22.0 points in the past eight games in which she has scored no fewer than 19.
“The main things are that my teammates are looking for me, and I’ve been aggressive,” Morgan said.
She was chosen second-team All-AAC on Thursday after averaging 17.6 points per game, third in the conference. Guard Leslie Vorpahl, who led the conference in assists at 5.5 per game, was chosen third-team All-AAC and most improved player; Taylor Emery was selected to the all-freshman team.
Morgan’s streak began with 20 points Feb. 6 at Houston. Noticeably, she also has been rebounding more, which she said has helped her scoring. In the past six games, she has averaged 7.7 rebounds.
“When I get a (defensive) rebound, I push the ball, and that leads to easy points,” she said. “I get in the lanes, and whatever is open, I take it.”
Coach Lisa Stockton said it has been fun watching Morgan, also known as a tough defender, mature as an offensive player.
“Her 3-point percentage is better, and she’s able to do more off the dribble with her jump shot,” Stockton said. “Last year, she was a little more limited driving left, but now she’s comfortable. She worked all summer on her weaknesses.”
A win against Memphis would be Tulane’s first vs. a team that finished higher than it in the conference standings. With an NCAA berth unlikely, it could help with NIT seeding.
“I think there’s a mindset because they got us at their place,” said Morgan, who tied for the game high with 15 points. “So now we want to buckle down and get this win and go from there.”
The Tulane-Memphis winner on Sunday will face top-ranked Connecticut, which beat the Wave by an average of 49 points the two times they met this season. In the second game, Tulane shot to a 13-2 lead, the largest against the Huskies this season.
“It was fun seeing their fans standing until they made their first basket,” Morgan said. “If we could play UConn again, that would be good for us. Maybe one day we can shock the world.”