Tulane power forward Tierra Jones was the last player on the practice floor after receiving treatment in the locker room for myriad bumps and bruises.
It’s that time of the season for Jones, known throughout the American Athletic Conference as the Green Wave’s energizer: She can’t slow down now.
“She’s playing the best basketball of her career,” coach Lisa Stockton said as Tulane (18-8, 9-5) prepared to play Tulsa (10-16, 7-8) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Devlin Fieldhouse. “That’s great to see from a senior. She’s rebounding, taking charges, driving to the basket. Her scoring has really been helpful, because it makes us that much harder to guard.”
Jones had 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in a home win Sunday against SMU. She followed that in Wednesday’s win at Central Florida with team highs of 13 points and nine rebounds.
“I’ve played in the system, my shot selection has improved and I’m so much better at fakes,” said Jones, who’s undersized at 5-foot-9 but athletic. “Instead of taking shots, I’m getting open lanes to the basket.”
When Tulane played at Tulsa on Jan. 16, Jones also led the team in scoring and rebounding. She had 13 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes.
She led four Green Wave scorers in double figures and helped Tulane score 30 points off 23 turnovers. The Wave held the Hurricane to one point in the third quarter to build a 25-point lead on its way to a 71-47 trouncing.
“They have strong guards and want to dribble-drive and pass,” she said. “We knew that, so they weren’t able to score, and we had such energy on our end and were able to get a lot of run-outs and mismatches in transitions.”
Beating Tulsa would mean the Wave has taken care of business against three consecutive teams it expected to beat, with heavyweights Temple and Connecticut coming up next on the road. A victory would give Tulane its fifth season sweep of a conference opponent.
“That’s something we take pride in,” Jones said. “We want to get this win and put Tulsa behind us until the conference tournament.”