The Tulane women tuned up for the American Athletic Conference tournament with a 70-51 victory against Cincinnati on Monday at Devlin Fieldhouse as the Green Wave thwarted the Bearcats’ trapping defense.
The victory enabled Tulane (20-10, 11-7) to end the regular season on a high note after consecutive road losses and reach 20 wins for the seventh consecutive season.
The Green Wave earned the No. 5 seed in the AAC tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut. Tulane, which landed a first-round bye, faces No. 4 seed Memphis at 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN3).
Guard Kolby Morgan on Monday had her eighth consecutive game of at least 19 points, scoring 22. On Senior Night, center Chinwe Duru tied season highs with 16 points and five blocks, and power forward Tierra Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Green Wave pounded Cincinnati, the AAC’s worst rebounding team, 44-28 on the boards, getting 16 offensive rebounds, of which Jones had six.
“We talked before the game about going out in style, and we really wanted it,” Jones said.
Cincinnati had sliced a 10-point Tulane halftime lead to 33-28 by 6:30 of the third quarter on a long 3-pointer by point guard Ana Owens. But the change in momentum was fueled by the Bearcats’ trapping of the Green Wave’s guards on the perimeter, once in the halfcourt offense, and also Tulane’s rebounders to slow the fast break.
But the Wave began trapping the Bearcats guards in return. In an 11-0 run that gave back control to Tulane, Morgan had a steal and layup, a three-point play and a layup off a steal by point guard Leslie Vorpahl. Tulane led 44-28 at 3:07 and ended the quarter ahead 48-38.
“We’d had some success in the first half with it,” coach Lisa Stockton said, “and we just decided to press in the second half.”
Vorpahl keyed a 13-5 burst at the start of the fourth quarter with two 3-pointers as the Wave stretched its lead back out to 61-43.
Tulane went into halftime leading 31-21 despite scoring just one point in the final 4:32 of the half, coming on a free throw by freshman Meredith Schulte with 1.1 seconds left.
Cincinnati had closed to 19-14 on a 3-pointer by Owens, but Tulane outscored the Bearcats 11-5 in taking an 11-point lead, its largest of the half, at 30-19 on a free-throw line jumper by Schulte at 4:32.
Morgan, who scored eight points in the half, answered Owen’s 3-pointer with a three-point play, sending Tulane on its run. She also had a steal and pass to Vorpahl for a fast-break layup that gave Tulane its first 10-point lead at 5:28.
Duru also scored eight to lead the Wave in the half, making post-up baskets and free-throw line jumpers.
Tulane was in control thanks to a whopping 14-0 advantage in points off turnovers, forcing 13. And, the Wave went 6-of-7 on free throws, while the Bearcats did not attempt one in the half. Those two stats more than made up for 1-of-12 3-point shooting by the Wave.