Tulane jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a 89-45 victory over Southern University of New Orleans at Devlin Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
Tulane (2-1) dominated the first matchup between these two New Orleans-area schools since 1976 from the opening tipoff and managed to put together its second consecutive victory of 40 or more points after a dominating 100-61 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Thursday.
“I was glad with our approach. It’s our second straight game with 20-plus assists, so we’re sharing the ball,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. “We wanted to wipe away that Wake Forest game (a 71-49 loss in the season opener Nov. 17), but still learn from it and say ‘that’s what happens when we don’t share the ball’.
“It was just good to see everybody going tonight the way we were.”
The Green Wave had five different players score in double digits, including a career-high 17 points and eight rebounds by guard Cameron Reynolds. Senior guard Jay Hook followed his 18-point performance in Thursday’s victory over Valley with 12 points on four-of-seven shooting in 18 minutes.
The Green Wave also had its best defensive performance of the season, holding the Knights (2-5) to 45 points on 36-percent shooting and also forced SUNO into 18 turnovers.
“I’ve been on them pretty hard about (our defense),” Conroy said. “I feel like we’ve made strides, but this is where we have to reach for goals down the line and not just be satisfied. I thought we came out the second half and made it hard for them to get shots off.”
Tulane also got major contributions from its bench, with the unit combining for a season-high 56 points one game after scoring 49 bench points against Valley.
“My teammates want me to take those shots, so every time I get the ball, they’re ready for me to shoot,” Reynolds said of his career night. “I just have to knock my shots down and step up and be ready when my teammates need me.”
SUNO tried to utilize a 2-3 zone defense to prevent the Green Wave from exploiting its interior, but Tulane took advantage of SUNO’s defensive scheme by moving the ball on the perimeter and finding open 3-point shots. The Green Wave attempted almost half as many three-pointers (16) as two-pointers (19) in the first half.
The Green Wave made nine of those 16 shots from beyond the arc in the first half and finished 10 of 19 from 3-point distance.
“Coach stresses to us every day that we have to move the ball,” said guard Louis Dabney, who finished with 12 points. “We kept moving the ball from side to side, and it wore them down after a while.”
The Green Wave opened the game with a 12-2 run — nine of those points coming off Hook nailing his first three 3-point attempts of the night. The Green Wave lead extended to 30-11 following a Dabney 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the first half.
Tulane’s full-court press forced the Knights into mistakes the entire first half, forcing 12 turnovers by the Knights and the Green Wave scored 15 points off of those mistakes.
Freshman guard Will Bailey, who came into Saturday night’s game averaging 21.6 points per game, led the way for SUNO with 11 points and three rebounds on four-of-14 shooting from the field.