Kolby Morgan’s clutch free throws help Tulane women hold off Bama _lowres

Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton, center, talks to players Kolby Morgan, left and Tulane’s Leslie Vorpahl, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Storrs, Conn. UConn won 80-40. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Tulane guard Kolby Morgan sank four free throws in the final 44.6 seconds, the last two with 18.3 seconds remaining, and the Green Wave slipped past Alabama 53-52 in their WNIT opener Wednesday at Devlin Fieldhouse.

Alabama guard Karyla Middlebrook missed a 16-foot pull-up jump shot from the left wing with 5.2 seconds left, and freshman center Harlyn Wyatt grabbed the rebound and passed to Morgan, who dribbled upcourt, running out the clock.

“We were in control for most of the game, and some crazy things happened, but we stayed together and were able to get it done in the end,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said.

The victory sends Tulane (22-11) against the winner of Thursday’s Georgia Tech-Mercer game in Atlanta.

Morgan scored 19 points and was the only Green Wave scorer in double figures.

Center Quanetria Bolston scored 12 to leada four Alabama (15-16) players in double figures.

“I was just being aggressive at the end,” Morgan said. “A layup is easier than a jump shot.”

Tulane ultimately won the game by going 14-of-15 from the free-throw line, while Alabama shot 7-of-15, missing key ones down the stretch of the fourth.

Alabama took its first lead since 3-2 when Hannah Cook sank a 3-pointer with 1:29 left, putting the Tide ahead 50-49. It came after Latham drove, scored and a foul was called, only to be assessed with charging at the 1:56 mark. The Wave had led 42-34 with 8:13 showing only to see Alabama battle back.

Tulane went into the fourth quarter leading 38-31 after oustcoring Alabama 15-6 in the third quarter. The Wave forced 10 turnovers and held the Tide to eight shots. Tulane also went 5-of-5 on free throws in the quarter, while Alabama had just two attempts, missing both.

The Wave began going low to center Chinwe Duru to start the third quarter, and she scored four quick points for a 27-22 lead. Morgan drove for a three-point play at the 6:09 mark to push the margin to 30-23.

Morgan scored 10 points, and Tulane led just 23-22 at halftime after getting leads but not being able to distance itself from the Tide.

With the Wave playing mostly substitutes at the start of the third quarter, Morgan sank a 3-pointer for a 13-8 lead. However, Alabama scored five quick points to tie it, including a three-point play by guard Meoshonti Knight on the fast break.

Leslie Vorpahl sank a 3 at 5:20 that gave Tulane a 20-15 lead, but Knight answered with a 3 a minute later, and Alabama tied it at 20 on two free throws by Nikki Hegstetter.

Tulane went into the locker room with the lead after a free throw by Vorpahl and two by Morgan in the last 1:29. Alabama shot just 28.6 percent (8-of-28) in the half but held the Wave to 25.9 (7-of-27). However, the Wave forced 10 turnovers, scoring nine points off them.