Central Florida aggressively positioned itself for a chance at a huge American Athletic Conference women’s basketball win against Tulane on Sunday at Fogelman Arena.
However, Tulane starting guards Leslie Vorpahl and Kolby Morgan led a third-quarter turnaround, and the Green Wave put away the Knights with an 18-0 fourth-quarter surge in taking a 75-54 win.
Heading into an important home game Wednesday against No. 22-ranked South Florida, Tulane (12-4, 3-1) won its second consecutive conference game, its ninth in 10 games overall and its eighth home game in a row. Central Florida, which hasn’t beaten Tulane since 2011, fell to 3-12, 0-4 in losing its 11th consecutive game.
“Our foul trouble kind of broke our rhythm in the first half, and even in the third quarter,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “But it was good to see us in that fourth quarter be able to shut them down and increase that lead.”
Tulane led 35-32 at halftime after Central Florida began driving to the basket and outscored the Wave 9-4 in the final four minutes of the second quarter.
However, Vorpahl scored eight points from the 8:56 mark of the third quarter to 6:22, including two big 3-pointers. Morgan then drove for a basket and scored another on a nifty up-and-under move. When freshman Meredith Schulte sank a 3-pointer with 2:47 left in the third, Tulane led 51-39.
Morgan finished with 19 points to lead five players in double figures. Vorphal had 11 points and 11 assists, forward Tierra Jones had 13 points and eight rebounds, freshman Taylor Emery scored 12 points and center Chinwe Duru 10.
The Wave was in control 27-19 near midway of the second quarter by going inside to Duru and Jones. In the third quarter, Tulane got back to going inside, and that opened things up for the guards.
More importantly, the Wave adjusted defensively to Central Florida’s drives, most notably that of guard Zykira Lewis. That forced them to take outside shots, and the Knights shot 6-of-30 in the second half.
“We just weren’t as aggressive going to the basket in the second half,” Central Florida coach Joi Williams said.
Tulane sealed the win in the fourth quarter. Leading 56-50 at the 8:34 mark, the Wave held the Knights without a point for the next 8:12 in taking a 74-50 lead.
The win kept Tulane in the thick of the AAC race behind No. 1-ranked Connecticut (4-0), which beat South Florida 74-59 on Sunday, and Temple (4-1). The Wave is tied with South Florida.