March 12, 2010
TULSA, Okla. - The Green Wave used a 22-2 run to open the game and survived a furious come-back attempt as top-seeded Tulane defeated No. 6 seed UAB, 62-54, in the title game of the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship Friday afternoon in the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
With the win, Tulane becomes the first team since the 2005-06 Tulsa club to sweep the C-USA regular-season and tournament titles as the Green Wave improved to 26-6 on the year. The Wave earned the league's automatic bid to next week's NCAA Tournament and they will learn their postseason destination on Monday when the selection show is aired live on ESPN at 7 p.m. (EST).
UAB traveled a tough road to get to the C-USA Championship game, defeating host Tulsa, knocking off No. 3 seed SMU and upsetting second-seeded Houston. The Blazers rallied back from a 20-point, first-half deficit to make it a seven-point game at 57-50 with 2:43 to go. Tulane's lead, however, proved to be too much to overcome as UAB concludes its 2009-10 season at 17-15.
Tulane forward Danielle Nunn was named Tournament MVP after averaging 12.7 points and connecting on 57.0 percent of her shots from the field (11-of-19) during the tournament. She was joined on the C-USA All-Tournament squad by teammates Tiffany Aidoo and Chassity Brown. Also earning all-tourney honors were UAB's Tamika Dukes and Jala Harris.
As they have done all year, the Green Wave used a balanced offense to come away with another win as Brown, freshman guard Olivia Grayson and sophomore Brett Benzio scored 11 each, while Nunn, Aidoo and junior point guard Roshaunda Barnes finished with nine apiece. Benzio posted the game's lone double-double with a career-high 17 rebounds, Barnes had a game-best five assists and Nunn had three of Tulane's eight steals.
Tulane came out of the gates on fire, scoring the first 11 points of the ballgame and running out to a 22-2 lead on a Grayson jumper with 9:59 to play in the first half. The Blazers responded by outscoring the Green Wave 16-6 the rest of the way to make it a 10-point game at the half. UAB held Tulane without a field goal for over four minutes and held the Green Wave to 3-of-13 the rest of the opening stanza to make it a 28-18 contest at the break.
The Wave scored six of the first eight points of the second half and led by as many as 16 on three occasions over the final 20 minutes. Dukes, meanwhile, scored 14 of her game-high 16 points after halftime to lead a UAB come-back effort.
Trailing 43-27 with 11:50 left in regulation, UAB went on a 9-1 rally over the next 1:59 to make it an eight-point affair. Tulane pushed the lead back to 12 twice down the stretch, but the Blazers cut the decifit to seven at 57-50 with 2:43 to go and again at 59-52 1:22 later. The Green Wave, however, got an Aidoo layup with 51 ticks left and a free throw by Barnes with 34 seconds remaining to put the game away. Miteka Trueheart accounted for the final score with an uncontested layup in the closing seconds.
Dukes was one of three UAB players to post double-digit scoring totals as Harris and Amber Jones finished with 14 points each. Dukes also led the Blazers with six rebounds. Trueheart, Jones and Harris tied for the team lead with three assists each, and Jones tied Nunn for game-high steal honors with three thefts of her own.