With Tulane trailing Georgia Tech 39-38 at the start of the second half, Cameron Reynolds’ short shot from the baseline went halfway down before rolling off the rim.
The Green Wave never had a chance to take the lead again in a hard-fought 76-68 loss to the Yellow Jackets on Saturday at Devlin Fieldhouse.
This was not about Georgia Tech (6-2) overwhelming Tulane (5-4) with ACC talent. The Yellow Jackets, who start four seniors and a junior, were simply a little bit better when it mattered most.
“Their experience showed,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. “They dug down and found a way to get the win, and it’s a credit to their confidence level.”
Tulane rallied from an 8-point deficit in the first half to take the lead briefly and came from 10 down in the second half to pull within three.
The Yellow Jackets always had an answer or the Wave missed an opportunity.
Georgia Tech, which had outrebounded its first seven opponents by 14 a game, beat Tulane only 38-37 on the boards but dominated one small stretch. When the Wave scored nine points in three possessions midway through the second half, the Yellow Jackets stayed in control with a basket after three offensive rebounds and a bucket after four offensive boards.
“You have to really have a physical mentality and unbelievable concentration to keep us off the glass,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “What we count on is maybe there are one or two lulls, and that’s what we got.”
After Tulane pulled within 67-64 on a beautiful outlet lob from Dylan Osetkowski to Malik Morgan for a layup, Jernard Jarreau missed a mid-range shot that would have cut the deficit to 1, and Morgan was called for a charge as the Yellow Jackets went on a decisive 6-0 run.
That was one of a season-high-tying seven turnovers for Morgan, who hit all six of his shots and finished with 14 points.
Louis Dabney led the Wave with 15 points but went 5 of 18 from the floor and 2 of 6 on free throws, including three critical misses down the stretch.
“We had a bunch of good looks,” Dabney said. “If I had made my free throws like I usually do, it could have been different. I just came up short tonight.”
Guard Marcus Georges-Hunt paced four Georgia Tech players in double figures with 19 points. Power forward Charles Mitchell extended his season-long streak of double-doubles to eight with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Georgia Tech went ahead early with an array of baskets in the lane, but Tulane responded with a 15-6 spurt to go ahead 38-37. Freshman point guard Von Julien drove for a layup. Dabney fed Osetkowski for a stuff and freshman Kain Harris dunked on an alley oop from Reynolds that brought the crowd of 2,005 to its feet.
Tulane shot 50 percent in the first half and trailed 39-38 when past Conroy teams might have been down by 20.
“The last 10 minutes of the first half was kind of what I envision this team becoming,” Conroy said. “We played really good basketball, and it gave us a lot to build on heading into this break. Georgia Tech was playing at a high level. Both teams were playing well.”
Tulane is off for exams before hosting Prairie View on Dec. 14.
“They are only going to get better,” Gregory said. “The team that played three weeks ago is not the same team that they have right now, and I think that trend is going to continue throughout the year.”