Kolby Morgan has shown a penchant for bouncing back strongly.
It happened again after Sunday's loss at No. 25 South Florida, in which Morgan scored just eight points on 3-of-19 shooting. She came back with 30 points to lead Tulane to a win at Tulsa on Tuesday.
“The thing I remember about the South Florida game is, they played great defense and really sped up our offense,” said Morgan, as Tulane prepared for Saturday's home game against Houston (13-3, 2-0 American Athletic Conference). “I knew that against Tulsa, we had to slow down. We had to make sure we kept our composure throughout basketball's different runs.”
The 30 points put Morgan 157 away from passing guard Stacey Gaudet (2,080 points, 1883-87) in second place and 336 from passing Grace Daley (2,258; 1996-2000) for the career scoring lead.
Morgan, averaging 20.9 points this season, said he doesn't think about it unless someone brings up how close she is to the next step on the ladder. She did text her high school coach, Babara Farris — a former Tulane and WNBA player — when she passed Farris at 1,729 points, though, just to offer a good-natured “gotcha.”
She is 76 points from reaching the 2,000 mark, which could come at Fogelman Arena soon. The the Green Wave (9-6, 1-1) will play four of its next five games at home.
Morgan said that's why the win at Tulsa was a lot bigger than how many points she scored.
“It was big for us to come off a (29-point) loss and redeem ourselves and get a win on the road, as well,” she said. “It kind of helps our confidence coming into this Houston game.”
Although Tulane needs Morgan to score this season more than any other because of its lack of proven, experienced scorers, Morgan and coach Lisa Stockton say it is important that she has become a better leader. Soft-spoken, it is not a role she relished in past seasons.
“I think I've done more growing and maturing this season,” Morgan said. “I'm more of a leader, more of a captain having patience in my teammates and helping them grow.”
Stockton said that is happening on and off the court.
“Kolby wants to win,” Stockton said. “If you ask her if she'd rather get an NCAA tournament berth or become our career-leading scorer, she would rather we go to the NCAA tournament.
“She knows her influence on this team is important, and I definitely see her doing that more and more. She's talking in huddles and getting people ready for the game and making sure they are accountable for their (scouting report). Those are the kind of things that are little things but big things.”
After Saturday's game, Tulane will play at home against Wichita State, at Central Florida, then at home against Tulsa and East Carolina. For now, it's Houston, which is eighth in the nation in forcing turnovers (23.7 per game).
“They are athletic, so they like to get upon you and press,” Morgan said. “They like to go for steals, and they are guard-oriented (four), so they like to get up and down the floor. They are great in transition, so we have to make sure we stop them.”
The best way to limit it is to make shots. In five of the past seven games, Tulane has gotten at least three players in double figures, including four twice. It had four at Tulsa despite Morgan's high-scoring game. Tulane has won five of the past seven and four of five.
“A lot of people have stepped up really well,” Morgan said. “Our juniors (center Harlyn Wyatt, forward Meredith Schulte) are stepping up. Our point guards (sophomore Kayla Manuirirangi, freshman Kaila Anderson) are starting to get in the groove, and our bench is stepping up. We just have to keep it going.”