Season-opening Southeastern upset bid falls just short at Tulane

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NEW ORLEANS, La. – Tulane closed the game with a 6-0 run to hold off Southeastern Louisiana University, 66-58, in the 2021-22 women’s basketball season opener for both teams on Tuesday afternoon in Fogelman Arena.

After a big third quarter that saw Tulane (1-0) turn a four-point halftime deficit into a 13-point lead, Southeastern (0-1) fought all the way back to within two in the latter minutes. However, the host Green Wave was able to hold off the Lady Lions with a strong closing finish.

“We have to learn from this one,” Southeastern head coach Ayla Guzzardo said. “We want to be consistent and not let ourselves get too high or too low. We hit some big shots early against their zone, but their pressure really got to us in the third quarter. We never stopped fighting though, which I’m proud of. Overall, I liked what I saw from our team and we’re happy with our depth and how that will help us down the road.”

Southeastern outscored the Green Wave, 32-5, in bench points, as both Lady Lions who scored in double figures were outside of the starting lineup. Cierria Cunningham led SLU with 15 points, while Daija Harvey added 10.

Caitlyn Williams and Breonca Ducksworth chipped in with nine and eight points, respectively. Hailey Giaratano paced Southeastern with eight rebounds and three assists, while Cunningham contributed three steals.

Four of Tulane’s five starters scored in double figures. Dynah Jones led the Green Wave with 16 points, followed by Moon Ursin (15), Arsula Clark (13) and Krystal Freeman (12). Freeman and Ursin each grabbed eight rebounds, while Clark was credited with a game-high five assists.

Neither team led by more than five in a closely contested opening period. Southeastern finished the quarter with a 7-2 run with Cunningham hitting a three at the buzzer to allow the Lady Lions to head into the second quarter with a 16-14 lead.

Playing in her first game in 622 days, Alexius Horne scored the first bucket of the second quarter and Ducksworth followed with a basket of her own to push the Lady Lion lead to 20-14. Tulane would not regain the lead for the rest of the half, as SLU went into the break with a 33-29 cushion.

Williams hit a pair of free throws for the first points of the second half to stretch the Southeastern lead back to six, but Tulane answered with a 10-0 run to go back ahead, 39-35, with 7:22 left in the third quarter.

Consecutive baskets by Horne and Giaratano tied the game up, 39-39, but the Green Wave went on a 13-0 run with Ursin scoring the final eight points of the rally and giving Tulane a 52-39 lead with 2:43 remaining in the third period. Southeastern was able to whittle the lead down to single digits and went into the fourth quarter down, 54-45.

Cunningham scored six points in a 7-0 run that allowed SLU to cut the lead to 56-54 with 5:24 remaining. While Tulane couldn’t pull away, Southeastern just couldn’t get over the final hump. However, the Lady Lions were still within a bucket, trailing 60-58 with 1:26 left in the contest.

That would be as close as Southeastern would get. Jones hit a three on the ensuing possession to put Tulane up by five. After a SLU turnover, Freeman iced the game with a three-point play with just under a minute left that provided the final margin.

Tuesday’s game marked the first of two nonconference road games to open the season for the Lady Lions. On Thursday, SLU travels to Texas Tech for a 7 p.m. contest in Lubbock, Texas. The game will air on ESPN+.

Southeastern (0-1)
Williams 3-5 2-2 9, Kelly 2-6 1-1 5, Carrier 0-3 0-0 0, Ducksworth 4-8 0-0 8, Giaratano 2-8 0-0 4, Bell 0-1 0-0 0, Cunningham 6-13 2-2 15, Brown 1-1 1-2 3, Harvey 4-11 0-0 10, Horne 2-9 0-0 4, Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-65 6-7 58.
Tulane (1-0)
Freeman 5-10 1-1 12, Heide 2-4 1-3 5, Clark 4-10 5-6 13, Ursin 6-11 0-0 15, Jones 6-13 3-3 16, Anderson 0-3 1-2 1, Grant 0-2 2-2 2, Cheatham 1-2 0-0 2, Galic 0-3 0-0 0, Parau 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 13-17 66.
End of 1st Quarter – SLU 16, Tulane 14. Halftime – SLU 33, Tulane 29. End of 3rd Quarter – TUL 54, SLU 45. 3-point goals – SLU 4-13 (Harvey 2-6, Cunningham 1-1, Williams 1-1, Carrier 0-2, Giaratano 0-1, Horne 0-1, Bell 0-1), TUL 5-19 (Ursin 3-6, Freeman 1-4, Jones 1-3, Anderson 0-3, Cheatham 0-1, Galic 0-1, Parau 0-1). Technical Fouls – None. Fouled Out – None. Rebounds – SLU 37 (Giaratano 8), TUL 40 (Freeman, Ursin 8). Assists – SLU 11 (Giaratano 3), TUL 12 (Clark 5). Total Fouls – SLU 16, TUL 8. A – 506.

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