An early win at Arkansas-Little Rock launched the Tulane women’s basketball team to its first NCAA tournament bid in five years last season.
The Green Wave could be well on its way again after an opening-night blowout of the Trojans this time.
Leslie Vorpahl scored 14 first-half points, and Tulane cruised past Little Rock 69-53 in the opening game of a women’s/men’s doubleheader on Friday night at Devlin Fieldhouse.
Vorpahl hit three free throws for the first points of the game after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, starting a trend. The Wave converted two 4-point plays in the second quarter, with Kolby Morgan and Vorpahl doing the honors.
Vorpahl did not score in the second half, but she did plenty enough damage in the first 20 minutes — hitting all eight of her foul shots — after scoring a career-high 22 points against the Trojans last year.
“I love playing against aggressive teams,” she said. “This game just brought us so much confidence knowing where we are against a pretty good team.”
Morgan added 12 points before leaving late in the third quarter with cramps. She headed to the locker room for treatment but returned to the bench during the fourth quarter.
Freshman Taylor Emery, a Parade All-America selection, had 11 points. Post player Courtnie Latham contributed nine points, three assists and four steals.
“We had a lot of people get involved in the offense, and it’s harder to defend (us) that way,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “Defensively, in the first 10 minutes, we did a great job.”
Little Rock, which won the Sun Belt Conference a year ago, bore little resemblance to the No. 11 seed that upset Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA tournament and almost beat Arizona State on its home floor to reach the Sweet 16. The Trojans lost three players who scored 51 of their 69 points against Texas A&M.
New Orleans native Kaitlyn Pratt, a McDonogh 35 alum, paced Little Rock with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but her teammates shot 13 of 43 against Tulane’s smothering defense.
The Wave led 15-4 at the end of the first quarter despite going the first seven-and-a-half minutes without a field goal. Little Rock closed within six points in the second quarter, but Vorpahl’s first 3-pointer gave the Wave a double-digit advantage, 29-17, it maintained the rest of the way.
Tulane was up 38-23 at halftime, 50-32 at the end of the third quarter and led by as many as 20 points.