When back in her hometown of Flowood, Mississippi, near Jackson, Tulane guard Tatyana Lofton loves to hunt and fish when she gets the chance.
“My family is originally from Pickens, and it's pretty much the country out there,” she said. “So, I'm a country girl. We go to Pickens to hunt and fish, but I know people who live in (suburban) Madison who have a hunting camp outside of Gluckstadt. I love to hunt deer and ducks and fish for catfish.”
Lofton has heard all about southeast Louisiana's sporting life has to offer, particularly redfish, speckled trout and snapper.
“I probably won't get the chance,” she said. “I never have the time.”
Lofton, a transfer from Jones County (Mississippi) Junior College who wants to be a lawyer, is busy with academic pursuits and, of course, basketball. In her first year at Tulane, she has had to come up to speed getting the Green Wave's offense down pat and adjusting to Division I basketball.
“There's definitely a lot of plays,” she said. “And, the teams you play scout you and know your offense, and they're going to scheme on us. So, I've had to get into the chemistry with my teammates and also not necessarily play the play but play basketball.”
Lofton, 5-foot-9, appears to be putting things together just in time for the Green Wave (10-9, 2-5), who will play East Carolina (10-9, 2-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Fogelman Arena in an American Athletic Conference game.
Playing 27 minutes, by far her most extended playing time this season, Lofton scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 on 3-point attempts, in Sunday's 60-39 rout against Tulsa. She also hauled in eight rebounds, second on the Wave to center Harlyn Wyatt's nine. Lofton had 10 points as Tulane rolled to a commanding 37-16 halftime lead.
Before that, she'd averaged 7.8 minutes and her highs were 16 minutes and six points against Troy on Dec. 21. However, Coach Lisa Stockton said Lofton's performance against Tulsa didn't just come out of nowhere.
“She earned (playing time) prior to the (Tulsa) game,” Stockton said. “I felt like she played a little bit at Central Florida. Her practices have been really good. I knew going into the game that we would get her in early just because of what she's done in practices.”
Lofton, who led Madison Ridgeland to Mississippi's Class 3A title in 2015 and helped lead Jones County to the NJCAA national tournament's Elite 8 last season, said she had to get in better shape.
“I was in basketball shape, but not in pace-of-the-game shape,” she said. “I think my biggest struggle was trying to think too much and then come down on the other side of the court. And it was an adjustment trying to score against taller people, because that definitely was not the case in junior college.”
Stockton said Lofton started coming on right before Christmas. Around that time, starting small forward Tene Thompson's right knee was injured in practice, knocking her out of seven games.
Lofton, the strongest player on the team as far as lifting weights, can play shooting guard or small forward in part because of her strength. Since Thompson's injury, Stockton had been tinkering with different lineups and the rotation. However, Lofton's emergence gives the Wave more flexibility.
For spurts, she was at shooting guard with leading scorer Kolby Morgan at point guard. That gave Tulane two guards who drove strongly to the basket, part of how the Wave scored 38 points in the lane.
Lofton, who is shooting 48.2 percent (14-of-29), could be a key figure against East Carolina, a physical team. Lofton and Morgan could end up with a lot of free throws because of their driving ability.
Like a patient hunter or fisher, Lofton has taken taken advantage of her shot.
“A lot of people who weren't playing could get down and not work,” Stockton said. “She's really worked. She played with a lot of confidence, was really aggressive.
“She has a lot of qualities that can really help us. She is a strong player with good hands, and she can rebound. She's got a scorer's mentality, sees the floor well, attacks the basket and can pass. And, I thought she also did a good job on defense.”