What was billed as a new, exciting era for Tulane men’s basketball began not with a bang but with a series of clangs.
The net effect was a humiliating loss to Alabama A&M of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Jacob Perry scored on a driving layup with 2 seconds left in overtime as the Bulldogs stunned the cold-shooting Green Wave 68-67 on Friday night at Devlin Fieldhouse.
Now Tulane, which created some buzz with a highly rated recruiting class and the addition of two key transfers, will have to bounce back from the sting of a shocking opening loss. Alabama A&M, which celebrated loudly in its locker room long after the final buzzer, went 1-9 against teams outside the SWAC last year, with the lone victory coming against non-Division I Oakwood.
“We have to stick together,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. “I told them I believe in them. Everybody at this point is going to try to pull us apart. We have to count on their leadership to understand how long of a journey this is. They see what I see in practice every day. We need to get that to translate on to the game court.”
Tulane hosts Drake on Monday.
The Wave, which trailed for the entire first half, appeared to be in good shape when center Dylan Osetkowski scored on a putback for a 62-57 lead with 4:45 left.
Instead, Tulane went the rest of regulation without a field goal, needing a pair of free throws with 12.2 seconds left by Louis Dabney to send it to overtime.
Tulane still appeared to have the advantage because Alabama A&M’s Ladarius Tabb, who scored a game-high 22 points, had fouled out late in regulation.
“It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t finish it off,” Dabney said.
After Dabney made a basket in transition for a 67-65 lead early in overtime, the Wave did not score again, committing two straight turnovers before freshman Kain Harris’ 3-point attempt went in and out, giving the Bulldogs one last chance. When Perry’s layup fell through, Tulane had a crushing loss.
Senior transfer Jernard Jarreau led the Wave with 16 points. Osetkowski added 13 points and 12 rebounds, and freshman Kain Harris scored 13.
Harris scored nine of his points on three consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half in Tulane’s only torrid stretch. Soon after, their play became horrid again, with LSU transfer Malik Morgan committing seven turnovers to negate his nine-point, eight-rebound, four-assist outing.
The Wave could not buy a basket for most of the first half, misfiring on 20 of its first 22 shots and all 11 of its 3-pointers. Osetkowski blew two layups on the opening possession, setting the tone for a miserable opening 20 minutes.
Crisp ball movement at the start went unrewarded and gave way to stagnant offense, with players launching off-balance attempts as Tulane made two field goals in the first 14 minutes. Melvin Frazier went 0-for-5, and fellow freshmen Von Julien and Harris weren’t much better, combining for one bucket in five tries.
Alabama A&M led 25-19 at halftime despite shooting 9-for-25. The two teams combined for five assists and 17 turnovers in the first half.
The half ended appropriately, with Frazier chasing down a loose ball and colliding with teammate Ryan Smith, leaving him a little dazed before Smith helped him up.
All of Frazier’s teammates had the same dazed look as they walked off the court after overtime.