The Tulane men’s basketball team does not have a player who has scored 20 points in a game this year.
The Green Wave players don’t care, either.
Louis Dabney scored 18 points in the first 14 minutes, 5 seconds as the Wave weathered an early torrid stretch by Southeastern Louisiana and came out ahead. He managed only one more point the rest of the way as both teams cooled off, but Tulane won that portion, too, beating the Lions 71-61 on Friday night at Devlin Fieldhouse.
“In the first half, I felt like my team needed me to score,” Dabney said. “In the second half, they didn’t need me to. I just needed to be more of a facilitator and a defender. I trust my teammates.”
Jay Hook added 16 points for Tulane (4-1), including six free throws down the stretch, and point guard Jonathan Stark chipped in 12 points. Freshman center Dylan Osetkowski had a game-high nine rebounds off the bench.
The turning point came when sophomore forward Payton Henson cleaned up a couple of Dabney’s mistakes.
With the Wave leading 47-43, Dabney’s pass to Henson under the basket went right to a Southeastern player, but Henson wrestled the ball away and hit a high-arching shot from close range. The next time down the court, Henson grabbed the rebound of a missed Dabney free throw and scored for a 52-43 lead with 14:44 left.
Tulane went up by double digits two minutes later and maintained at least a 10-point advantage until the final 30 seconds.
Zay Jackson led SLU (1-5) with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Fellow guard Joshua Filmore contributed 13 points.
The Wave, which was 1-of-20 on 3-pointers in its season opener against Wake Forest, was in the zone against SLU’s zone early. In one stretch, Dabney and Hook each hit a pair of 3s in quick succession as Tulane went ahead 37-29.
“We were a little slow to adjust,” SLU coach Jay Ladner said. “I just kept thinking (Dabney) was going to miss one, and you’ve got to give him credit. He’s a nice, nice player.”
That lead would have been larger if Southeastern had not been even hotter from long range. The Lions, 28-of-113 on 3-pointers in their first five games, connected on 8 of their first 10 vs. the Wave. They scored all 18 of their points from the 14:55 mark to the 3:15 mark from behind the arc, including three in a row from Jackson.
At that point, the teams were a combined 15-of-21 from 3-point range, forcing Southeastern to switch from a zone to man-to-man defense and Tulane to play tighter on the Lions’ shooters. Neither team sank another 3 the rest of the way, with Southeastern missing its last 10 and Tulane clanking its final eight.
“I was proud of our team, that even with a team coming out that hot and playing that well, we still had a six-point lead at halftime,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. “We had some defensive lapses, but they also hit some tough shots, and we didn’t hang our heads.”
Both teams return to the court Sunday. Tulane faces Tennessee Tech; Southeastern faces NAIA opponent Langston.