The Tulane women’s basketball team faced an inevitable blowout loss to unbeaten Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals.
But that didn’t take away from the vindication of a payback win over Memphis in the quarterfinals, Green Wave point guard Leslie Vorpahl said. Tulane is still brimming with pride and confidence derived from that victory, she said, as it heads into Wednesday’s WNIT first-round game against Alabama.
The game is at 7 p.m. at Devlin Fieldhouse, where Tulane (21-11) is 13-3 this season.
“We know we can compete,” Vorpahl said. “We know we’re going to have our ups and downs, but we just need to keep that focus and leadership. We’re going into this looking to see how far we can go. We definitely think we can win the whole thing.”
Alabama (15-15) was 4-12 in the SEC. Overall, it was 0-10 on the road. But Tulane coach Lisa Stockton and Vorpahl said the Crimson Tide plays good defense, and its four-guard lineup of sophomores Hannah Cook (12.0 ppg), Meoshanti Knight (10.1) and Karyla Middlebrook (8.7) and freshman Shaquera Wade (6.2) can cause problems.
“They’re athletic, they definitely like to spread the floor and Cook is a pretty good 3-point shooter,” Vorpahl said. “They like to penetrate and kick out, so we’re going to have to play disciplined defense.”
The game likely will come down to rebounds and turnovers. Tulane’s guards have been helping by rebounding more of late. Tulane, which often wins games without winning the rebounding battle, outrebounded Memphis 41-39.
Since it exited the AAC tournament, the Wave has worked on protecting the ball while scrimmaging against male students. An Achilles’ heel for Alabama, which has five sophomores and four freshmen, has been turnovers. The Crimson Tide had 319 assists against 492 turnovers.
“In the games we were losing, (turnovers) was definitely the stat that sticks out,” said Vorpahl, who led the AAC in assists per game at 5.4. “But we noticed (Alabama) has a pretty bad assist-to-turnover ratio, so we need to pressure them and make them make decisions.”
Knight played at Central Catholic High School in Morgan City and was recruited by Tulane. Former Mount Carmel Academy guard Taylor Berry is a freshman walk-on with the Tide.
Wednesday’s winner advances to play the winner of the Georgia Tech-Mercer game, which is Thursday at Georgia Tech.
Both Tulane and Georgia Tech filed to host WNIT games.