While not playing in their on-campus facility, host and sixth-seeded Tulsa made themselves right at home in the Tulsa Convention Center as the Golden Hurricane cruised to a 74-52 win over No. 11 seed Rice on Wednesday evening in day one of the 2013 Conference USA Women’s Basketball Championship. TU moved to 14-16 on the season, while the Owls fell to 14-16 overall.
Tulsa picked up its first win in the C-USA Championship since 2008, and earned its seventh win in the last 10 contests for a total of 14 victories this year. This is the most wins for Tulsa since recording 26 victories, claiming the C-USA Championship and advancing to the NCAA Second Round in 2006.
“First of all, it is the first time we’ve done this since 2006, so we are pretty excited about advancing to Thursday’s game,” Head Coach Matilda Mossman said. “I am really proud of these two [Taleya Mayberry and Tiffani Couisnard] on either side of me. As seniors, we thought it was really important to send these guys off on the right note. For them to win a game by 22 in the opening round, speaks volumes about their leadership and the way they came to play tonight. I am really proud of the way our team played as a whole. I thought we played really well together. In the second half, we had that run and that fueled everything, and we never looked back.”
Tulsa seniors – Taleya Mayberry, Tiffani Couisnard and Jessica McQuin – combined for 45 of TU’s 74 points or 60-percent of TU’s scoring tonight. Freshman Ashley Clark paced Tulsa with a game-best and personal-high 12 rebounds, while Couisnard had nine, and All-Freshman Team member Kelsee Grovey headlined the defense with three steals.
As a team, Tulsa connected on 47.1 percent of its field goals (24-of-51), including a .579 clip in the second half (11-of-19). The Golden Hurricane also took advantage of 20 Rice fouls, which helped the home team go 22-of-25 from the free throw line (.880). Tulsa held a commanding 44-23 rebounding advantage and outscored the Owls 34-12 in the paint.
Clark put Tulsa on the board with just four seconds ticked off the clock, which sparked a 12-3 run to start the contest for the Hurricane. TU had a 10-point advantage (20-10) with 6:50 left in the first frame, but the Owls chipped away at the difference to trail 30-28 at the break.
In the second half, there were two tied scores and two lead changes, as the Hurricane was down 34-38 with 15:53 on the clock, but went on a 32-8 run to take a 20-point edge with 2:18 left to play. TU went on to claim a 22-point victory.
Kuster led Rice with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. She was one of three Owls to post double-figure scoring totals as Megan Shafer had 12 and Porter chipped in with 10. Maduka paced the defense with two steals and a blocked shot.
Tulsa will take on Tulane on Thursday, March 14th beginning at 5:00 pm at the Tulsa Convention Center.
“We are playing another team that we split with during the regular season,” Mossman said. “Tulane has a lot of weapons and we are going to have to do a good job defensively. They’ve shot the ball extremely well over the course of the year, so we will have to be very sound defensively, we’re going to have to take care of the ball and we’re going to have to rebound like we did tonight.”
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