After a sobering season opener against Alabama A&M, the task for the Tulane men’s basketball team is hoping not to let that disappointing loss turn into a long-term slide.
The Green Wave will get a quick chance for a turnaround against Drake at 7 p.m. Monday in Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs, who finished 9-22 a year ago, beat Division III opponent Simpson College 97-52 in their opener. They were picked seventh out of 10 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference in a media preseason poll.
Right now, though, the Wave is worried about itself after its first loss to a Southwestern Athletic Conference team since falling to Prairie View in the 1997-98 season.
Tulane took good shots early but missed them, then had a series of bad possessions for the rest of the first half.
“What you have to do at that point is just understand that you’re playing the game the right way and keep doing that,” coach Ed Conroy said. “For whatever reason, our team got a little bit tentative, and we started standing around.”
Tulane, which went up by five points in the second half, could not put the game away. Louis Dabney scored the first points of overtime with 4:00 left but missed a free throw, and the Wave was shut out the rest of the way while committing three turnovers in the 68-67 defeat.
Alabama A&M, whose leading scorer fouled out late in regulation, won on a layup in the final seconds.
“I’m not sure what happened as far as did we want it to be too easy or did we think we had survived it,” Conroy said. “We got really careless with the basketball and lost our focus.”
One bright spot for Tulane was the play of freshman Kain Harris, who hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the second half. He almost hit a clinching fourth 3-pointer late in overtime, but the shot rimmed out.
“Kain has the ability to put points on the board in a hurry,” Conroy said. “He came in and gave us that spark. We had some bad possessions down the stretch, but we had a really good one toward the end and got him a great look. As he improves, he’s going to knock that down.”
Getting anything to go down was a problem for almost the entire team, which shot 38.6 percent despite center Jernard Jarreau’s 5-for-6 performance.
Dabney went 4-for-13.
“We got a lot of open shots,” Dabney said. “It was just real unfortunate that we just couldn’t make the open shots, but the offensive calls (Conroy) made were real good. I think the coaching staff will have us ready for the next game.”