Tulane women’s basketball coach Lisa Stockton put her arms around the Green Wave’s two starting guards, Leslie Vorpahl and Kolby Morgan, after Saturday’s game against East Carolina.
For good reason. The two combined for 45 points and helped Tulane fend off the Pirates down the stretch, as the Green Wave took a 78-73 American Athletic Conference victory at Fogleman Arena.
“I’m really proud of how our team handled the last five minutes of (the fourth) quarter,” Stockton said. “We had a lead, they caught up, made some incredible shots down the stretch. I thought we just kept going.”
The victory gave Tulane (15-5, 6-2) a season sweep of East Carolina (9-11, 3-5), a team picked to finish fourth in the AAC. It also kept the the Green Wave in second place, a half-game ahead of Temple (11-7, 5-2), with the two playing Tuesday at Fogelman.
Vorpahl scored a career-high 27 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. She drew a charge with 38.9 seconds left, and the Wave clinging to a 73-72 lead, sank the clinching free throws to seal the outcome with 7.9 seconds left.
Morgan scored 18 points. After being hit in the face, she drove to the basket for a three-point play with 2:26 left that gave Tulane breathing room at 71-66.
Center Chinwe Duru and freshman forward Meredith Schulte also came up with big plays with the game in the balance. Playing just 18 minutes because 6-foot-2 freshman post player Harlyn Wyatt provided a better matchup inside against the high-flying Pirates, Duru sank two free throws with 17.2 seconds left that pushed Tulane’s lead to 76-73.
Schulte then drew a charge against ECU post player I’Tiana Taylor with 7.9 seconds left, setting up up Vorpahl’s clinching free throws after the ball was inbounded.
The charging foul came on a play that wasn’t supposed to happen, with ECU trailing by three points, coach Heather Macy said.
“The play was drawn up for a 3 (point shot),” Macy said. “And then we drove it.”
And, East Carolina shot 11-of-25 (44.0 percent) against the team that is first in the conference in 3-point defense.
However, the difference in the game, Macy noted, was that Tulane, making it a point to drive to the basket, shot 24 free throws, making 18. ECU was 8-of-12 from the line.
The Green Wave, eighth in rebounding, won that battle 36-26, getting 13 offensive rebounds. No Tulane player was in double figures.