After losing consecutive home games to top-tier American Athletic Conference foes Temple and Connecticut, the Tulane women’s basketball team hits the road looking to get back on track.
The Green Wave (15-7, 6-4) plays at last-place Houston (5-16, 1-9) at 2 p.m. Saturday followed by a key game Tuesday at second-place, No. 19 South Florida (16-5, 9-2), one of three conference teams to beat Tulane at Fogelman Arena this season.
“Coach (Lisa Stockton) said she will need everyone to really contribute from here on out,” said forward Meredith Schulte, a 6-foot freshman from Braselton, Georgia. “Including the freshmen.”
Especially the freshmen.
Count Schulte in. In the loss to Temple on Jan. 26, she scored 10 points, tied for second on the team, and gave the Green Wave a lift with eight consecutive points in a 38-second span, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
Two games before that, at SMU on Jan. 20, she had six points and six rebounds in a gritty win. That was the second of two road games Tulane won, the first at Tulsa, after a disappointing home loss to South Florida on Jan. 13.
“Meredith has great savvy,” Stockton said. “She plays with really good intensity. She’s one of those players that knows our defenses, boxes out, does the right things. She’s the coach’s type player. When you watch film, she doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, and I see her getting much more confident.”
The Green Wave easily beat Houston 70-48 on Dec. 30 in the teams’ AAC opener, a game Schulte missed after getting a concussion in practice.
After this week’s deflating loss to UConn, Stockton said she would like to see the Wave “polish up some things, such as rebounding, playing with 40 minutes of intensity and shutting teams down defensively.”
That’s where Schulte and 6-2 freshman post player Harlyn Wyatt can make a difference. Guard Taylor Emery, a Parade All-American, had been getting a lot of playing time since the start of the season and has continued to improve.
But Schulte and Wyatt have come on of late, their play getting more physical as they adjust to college basketball and the AAC in particular.
“Harlyn’s a banger,” Stockton said. “I like that Harlyn’s intense and she’s not afraid to mix it up and be physical. When she’s in, I think we rebound really well. Even in the UConn game, she’s not afraid. She takes it on, and that’s a great compliment for a freshman.”
Stockton said this is the first team in her 23 years as head coach where, when she starts substituting, they’re mostly freshmen.
“The strength of our schedule and strength of our conference schedule has given them the opportunity to get better and to play at a high level,” she said.
“Your final stretch is when you want to play your best. We have to the next few weeks as when we play our best basketball.”