Tulane’s women’s basketball team came back from an 18-point deficit to defeat North Texas 56-55 Wednesday night at Devlin Fieldhouse.
The game was won in the last seconds when Leslie Vorpahl made the first of two shots from the free-throw line. That cut the North Texas lead to 55-54, and Tiffany Dale grabbed a rebound and made the last shot with 3 seconds left.
“I definitely know that we work a lot in practice on rebounding,” Dale said. “Getting that rebound definitely put us at an advantage to try to win the game with it.
“Coming down, we tried to execute our play. Leslie (Vorpahl) got fouled, she’s awesome. She made her first free throw, and then she definitely tried to make the second and she missed it. She got the rebound, and she had great vision for me to put in the winning shot.”
Tulane (16-6, 7-2 Conference USA) led for 70 seconds.
Courtnie Latham led the Green Wave with 12 points. Jamie Kaplan added 10.
North Texas (9-13, 3-6) was led by Acheil Tac’s 15 points, Briesha Wynn added 12, and Candice Adams scored 10.
Despite Tulane’s comeback in the second half, where it slowly chipped away at the Mean Green’s lead, there was little going well in the first half.
“Honestly, nothing went well,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said about the opening half. “I don’t know which was worse: our defense or our offense. I thought we were tremendously flat on offense.”
North Texas led 39-21 at halftime, and the Mean Green was able to keep Tulane scoreless for several stretches.
North Texas went on a 6-0 run that lasted for approximately 3 minutes. That run was capped by a Wynn jump shot at the 13:24 mark of the first half.
While Tulane broke the scoring drought, the Mean Green extended its lead to 23-11 when Candice Adams sank a 3-pointer with 9:11 left.
The Green Wave were not able to score in two other stretches of the first half as Chinwe Duru’s layup at the 12:03 mark cut the North Texas lead to 15-11. That was followed by Courtnie Latham’s jump shot at the 8:19 mark that cut the lead to 24-13. Tulane’s next basket came at the 3:41 when Vorpahl’s shot cut the lead to 33-15.
Tulane’s Jamie Kaplan started chipping away at the North Texas lead in the first half when she scored the game’s first second half points with a layup and then completed a 3-point play with 18:08 left in the game.
“Our goal was to cut it down bit by bit until the media timeouts and not try to catch up by 20, just cut it down,” Stockton said. “I felt when it got within four, our players could relax a little bit and offensively be more patient on offense.”
North Texas had its own scoring drought in the second half as it did not score until Tac made a layup to extend the lead to 41-26.
Kaplan cut the lead to 44-34 when she made two free throws at the 9:25 mark and Latham became the first Tulane player to reach double figures when she sank a layup with 8:18 left and that cut the lead to eight.
Vorpahl cut the lead to 51-47 with 4:27 left.
“We made some of the most inexplicable turnovers ever,” North Texas coach Mike Petersen said. “At the end of the day, they win this game because they get two offensive rebounds off of free throws.”