Opinion: Wave can avenge poor end to regular season in AAC tournament

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Sophomore guard Leslie Vorpahl looks to pass the ball in a 60-58 win against SMU Jan. 17 at Devlin Fieldhouse. The Wave face defending National Champion and No. 1 Connecticut (22-1, 12-0 AAC) at Connecticut Saturday. 

Mackenna Barker, Associate Sports Editor

The final game of the women’s basketball regular season ended on a sour note. The Wave (20-9, 11-7 AAC) was locked in a very close back and forth game against American Athletic Conference rival Tulsa (17-12, 12-6 AAC), but was overpowered in the final minutes and lost 55-52.

The disappointing loss was not the end Tulane wanted for its inaugural season in the AAC and it may have been the dagger in the heart of the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes. The final regular season game left the Wave with a bad taste in its mouth, but the Wave must regroup and reverse its fate in the AAC tournament March 6-9.

Tulane finds itself in an ideal position in this weekend’s tournament. Tulane earned the No. 6 seed after finishing with an 11-7 record in conference play, a respectable performance considering this year’s transition to one of the toughest conferences in women’s basketball.

Tulane’s first opponent will be AAC bottom-feeder and No. 11 seed Houston (6-23, 1-17 AAC), whom the Wave dominated in both regular season matchups. The Wave beat Houston 70-40 Dec. 30 at Devlin Fieldhouse and 63-46 Jan. 27 at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston.

While the Wave should have no problem securing a win against Houston, it is absolutely essential Tulane brings its very best from the get-go. The momentum from a good win against Houston will carry to the quarterfinals, where the Wave could rematch Tulsa. 

Tulane handled Tulsa 73-34 in the first meeting of the season Jan. 20 at Devlin. The Wave dominated the game offensively and defensively, forcing 23 turnovers. 

The most recent loss against Tulsa, however, showed signs of concern for the Wave. If the offense turns the ball over 17 times and can only shoot 13 percent from 3-point territory in a potential rematch, as it did in the loss, Tulane will be in for another disappointment.

The Wave faces Houston 7 p.m. Friday in Uncasville, Connecticut. The game will be televised on ESPN3.