Dynah Jones was in the Tulane women's basketball team's opening-day lineup, the first freshman to begin the season as a starter since 2013.
Coach Lisa Stockton said Jones earned it, but it was more about matchups and the opponent, Texas Southern.
“It felt good to be in the starting lineup, but I'm OK coming off the bench,” said Jones, who as a junior helped John Curtis to a state championship.
After that first game, Jones was a key contributor off the bench. However, in the past two games, she has been in the starting lineup. Opponents began effectively focusing on guarding 3-point shooters Sierra Cheatham and Kayla Manuirirangi, which affected the Green Wave offensively.
“(Jones) gives us a defensive presence — her quickness, her athleticism,” Stockton said. “She also gives us another slasher. I think her ability to get to the rim and be able to create off the dribble can help us.
“I really feel like she's getting very comfortable. You can see her really looking to score more and relaxing a little bit more.”
When Tulane (14-7, 4-4) plays host to South Florida (11-11, 2-6) in an American Athletic Conferenc game Wednesday at Fogelman Arena, Jones will start her third consecutive game.
“In practice, coach likes us to rebound, and I feel like I'm doing what I need to do to earn this spot in the lineup,” Jones said. “But, it changes, so you can't get comfortable.”
In her first recent start, a 62-61 overtime win at Memphis on Jan. 30, Jones had seven points, including a 3-pointer, along with two rebounds, three assists and two steals. In Tulane's most recent game, she had 15 points — second to Krystal Freeman's 22 — in a 63-61 loss at East Carolina.
“Against Memphis, I really keyed in on defensive intensity,” Jones said. “Also, Memphis had really big players, so I tried to help our big players out, putting a body on (the Memphis bigs).
“Against ECU, we were trying to get them to turn the ball over, then get it and score. So I had to pick up my intensity. We had to make them uncomfortable.”
South Florida beat the Green Wave 73-46 in Tampa on Jan. 19. The Bulls had four key players out, three for the season. In Wednesday's game, Alyssa Rader, a 6-foot-2 junior post, will be back in the starting lineup.
Jones said this game “obviously is personal” after losing the way they did.
“In the beginning of the game there, we were up, then we just stop playing,” Jones said. “We just stopped thinking. We weren't using screens, we weren't reading screens, we weren't doing what we needed to do to pull out the game.”
South Florida outrebounded Tulane 39-28, including 17-8 in offensive rebounds. The Bulls, who had been struggling offensively, shot 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) on 3 point attempts. Since beating the Wave, however, they have lost four in a row — by seven (Memphis), two (at SMU), one (Cincinnati) and three points (at Central Florida).
“We can't give them easy looks at all,” she said. “We can't give them layups and easy shots they had last game. They don't get offensive rebounds this time. That's my mentality.”