Women’s basketball out of AAC Tournament after ECU loss

Riley Hearon, Contributing Reporter

The Green Wave ended the season 7-9 in conference record and entered the women’s basketball American Athletic Conference Tournament in the middle of the pack. Ranked as a sixth seed, Tulane faced off against No. 11 seed University of Cincinnati, with whom they split the regular season. 

Cincinnati won the tip, and Tulane quickly set up in an aggressive man defense. Kyren Whittington proceeded to drain a jumper on Tulane’s first possession down the court off a Rachel Hakes assist. Cincinnati promptly answered, tying up the game at 2 points apiece.

For the rest of the first quarter, the Green Wave and the Bearcats continued to trade buckets, both teams setting up in their half-court offense and working deep into the shot clock to get a good look. However, with 59 seconds left in the first quarter, Cincinnati went on a 5-0 run to end the quarter at 14-9.

The second quarter proved to be a similar story — Tulane and Cincinnati scored consistently, but the Green Wave racked up the turnovers. The Bearcats’ tight coverage put pressure on point guard Hakes way past the 3-point line, resulting in rushed, dangerous passes that led to turnovers. Tulane would finish the game with 22 turnovers, although 14 of them came from the first half. 

The halftime break treated Tulane well, and the Green Wave emerged with revitalized energy, doubling down on defense and reducing turnovers. Irina Parau closed the gap with 6:46 remaining in third, tying the game at 28-28. On Tulane’s next possession, Dynah Jones nailed a 3-pointer, putting Tulane back on top for the first time since the 2:57 mark in the first quarter. 

With Jones’ shot, the Green Wave started to gain momentum and maintained the lead for the majority of the last half of the third. This momentum on offense directly translated to Tulane’s defensive intensity — the Green Wave trapped the Bearcats in the corners and at the block to get key stops.

Tulane carried this energy into the fourth and grew their lead to finish out the game 61-52. In the end, their free throws clinched the game as they shot 85.2% overall. They moved on to face East Carolina University in the AAC quarterfinals.

No. 3 seed East Carolina entered the game with fresh legs after a first round bye. Tulane, on the other hand, had a quick turnaround from their victory over Cincinnati. 

From the start, East Carolina controlled the pace of the game, pushing the fast breaks and converting in transition. Tulane struggled early on to establish their half-court offense against an aggressive East Carolina defense. The Green Wave’s offensive success was curbed by shots taken early in the shot clock and players not setting their feet.

It was not until mid-third quarter that Tulane started to break down the stifling East Carolina defense. The Green Wave opted for a four guard line-up, but Tulane was able to cut into East Carolina’s lead with a high-low game. Tulane players expertly read East Carolina’s overcommitting defense for a backdoor cut, flashing towards the basket for a perfectly timed pass. With this strategy, Tulane went on a 15-3 run to end the quarter at 41-48. 

Tulane started the fourth quarter strong, even tying the game at 48-48 with 7:42 remaining. However, East Carolina made a 18-8 run in the final 4:36 to secure the win at 58-69.

While going out in the quarterfinal game, Tulane had an impressive tournament stint, highlighting their strong defensive capabilities and team chemistry. Tulane now awaits their postseason fate, but, regardless, the next season proves promising for the Green Wave. 

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