None of the players on the court for Wednesday’s UNO-Tulane men’s college basketball game were in college when the two schools played annually in one of the city’s most passionate basketball rivalries.
Some of them weren’t even in high school yet.
The two teams squared off for the first time since 2011 in a highly competitive game at Tulane’s Devlin Fieldhouse, but Tulane (5-3) made the necessary plays at the end to come away with a 64-62 win, extending its win streak to three games.
Wednesday’s game marked the 48th meeting between the two schools, with Tulane holding a 25-23 advantage.
“I thought we had some moments in that game where we had an opportunity to separate ourselves, but we didn’t play smart,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. “Credit UNO for battling hard and competing the way they did. … We just got some stops when we needed them with our backs against the wall.”
Dylan Osetkowski led the Green Wave with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Jernard Jarreau added 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Christavious Gill was UNO’s leading scorer, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
“It’s disappointing,” UNO coach Mark Slessinger said. “This was a win we worked our tail off for, but we have a lot of young guys, and this game will help us a ton once we get into (Southland Conference play).”
The Privateers (2-4) turned up their defensive intensity to begin the second half and grabbed their first lead since scoring the first points of the game with an 18-foot jump shot by Kevin Hill that made the score 41-40 with 11:41 remaining.
After Tulane seemingly pulled away late with a layup by Malik Morgan that gave the Green Wave a four-point lead with 1:46 left, Gill scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Privateers a 62-61 lead with a minute remaining.
The Green Wave answered with a layup by Osetkowski to reclaim the lead, and Jarreau blocked an attempted layup by Hill to put the finishing touches on the victory. UNO had an opportunity to win the game with a 3-pointer at the buzzer but couldn’t convert.
“You’re going to have to get big stops at some point if you want to get to where we’re going,” Conroy said. “So it’s big for us to know that, whether we’re up 1 or down 1, we can get that stop when we need it.”
Both teams struggled to get things going offensively in the first half, shooting a combined 19-of-65 from the field and 1-of-16 from 3-point range.
UNO jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game, but turnovers and early foul trouble (two fouls on two UNO starters in the first five minutes) allowed Tulane to gain a rhythm and take control.
The Green Wave quickly took a double-digit lead with a 23-8 run, but the Privateers kept thing close by winning the rebounding battle 28-25 in the first half, including 12 offensive rebounds.
UNO guard Nate Frye made a layup to cut the team’s deficit down to 30-24 late in the half, but a 3-pointer by Tulane’s Lou Dabney with 28 seconds remaining gave the Green Wave a 33-24 advantage heading into halftime.
“It seemed like our whole team had two fouls in the first half,” Slessinger said. “The guys played with a lot of composure, we just gave away a few opportunities, and in a game this close, every point matters.”
For the third consecutive game, Conroy went with a different starting five, replacing Jarreau and Melvin Frazier with Ryan Smith and Kain Harris, to go with Osetkowski, Morgan and Dabney.