Uncasville, Conn. — Tulane’s bid for its first American Athletic Conference tournament title came to an end in the semifinals Sunday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
South Florida defeated the Green Wave 78-69 to advance to the championship game to play No. 1 UConn, a 106-56 winner over East Carolina earlier Sunday.
Junior Alisia Jenkins led the way for the Bulls with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while junior Courtney Williams added 21 points as USF improved to 26-6 with its sixth win in seven games.
Senior Danielle Blagg had a team-high 19 points for the Green Wave (22-10). Sophomore Courtnie Latham chipped in 15 for Tulane, which could land an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
Tulane (21-9) defeated Houston in Friday’s first round of the tournament 64-39 and then beat Tulsa 71-53 in the quarterfinals Saturday.
USF led by as much as 11 midway through the second half Sunday before Tulane stormed back with another upset bid. Five straight points from Latham brought the Green Wave within 57-51 with 9:12 to go before a pair of Blagg jumpers and two free throws from freshman Kolby Morgan knotted the score at 61 with 5:07 to play.
The Bulls countered with a 10-0 run to open a 73-63 advantage with a minute left. After a Latham 3 brought the Green Wave within seven, the teams traded free throws down the stretch.
Jenkins’ double-double was her 23rd of the season. The junior is rapidly approaching the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound marks as she stands at 961 points and 946 rebounds entering Monday. Her final rebound of the night gave her 378 on the year, breaking a USF single season record.
Connecticut 106, East Carolina 56: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points as top-ranked UConn moved to the final.
Mosqueda-Lewis hit eight of her 10 shots, including five from 3-point range, moving her within 12 of the NCAA career record of 392.
Moriah Jefferson added 20 points and six assists and five steals. Breanna Stewart had 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Morgan Tuck chipped in with 15 points and Gabby Williams had 12.
I’Tiana Taylor had 17 points and Jada Payne added 15 to lead East Carolina, which is 21-10.
UConn, which beat Cincinnati by 59 points in the quarterfinal, led 62-22 at the half, its biggest scoring output for a half this season and just six shy of the school record.