Tulane falls to Wichita State on buzzer beater, 82-79

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NEW ORLEANS – Sophomore guard Caleb Daniels did everything he could to send seniors Jordan Cornish and Blake Paul out as winners in the Green Wave’s home finale Saturday night at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse as he scored a career-high 36 points.

Despite the New Orleans native’s Herculean effort, the Green Wave fell, 82-79, to Wichita State on a buzzer-beater from the corner by Shocker freshman guard Dexter Dennis.

Daniels’ numbers were truly eye-popping as he closed the night by going 11-of-17 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw line, as he became the first Green Wave player since Ledaryl Billingsley in 2001 to score 36-or-more points in one game.

“I wanted to win the game very badly,” Daniels said. “It’s not about the race, it’s about the marathon.”

Thirty-one of Daniels’ points came in the second half as he led the Green Wave back from a nine-point, first half deficit and propelled Tulane to a second-half lead where they would lead by as many as nine, 55-46, with 10:17 remaining.

“None of Caleb’s play surprises me,” head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. “He’s going to make the right play. He has a chance to be a real star because he truly makes other players better.”

Tulane opened the second half on a 13-3 run to claim its first lead of the game since scoring a basket on its first possession of the night. The Green Wave went into the locker room trailing, 37-28.

Tulane held the lead for much of the second half, including an eight-point advantage (63-55) with 7:19 to go in the game. The Shockers would respond however, as they went on an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to tie game at 63 apiece with 5:28 remaining.

The final five minutes of the game would see five ties and nine lead changes with the Shockers claiming the lead for good as time expired.

“Very disappointing to lose a game that way,” head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. “Our team played their hearts out and really left it out on the floor. We’re trying to build and get better each day, and I think our team showed that progress and not to not get the final pay-off was disappointing.”

Joining Daniels in the double-figures was junior Samir Sehic and freshman Connor Crabtree as they poured in 20 and 13 points respectively. Sehic also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds, while Daniels chipped in with seven rebounds. it was also Sehic’s fifth 20-point effort this season.

Defensively for the Green Wave, Paul was a force as he tied a season high with four blocks.

“Obviously the score wasn’t what we wanted, but I can live with it after the way we played tonight,” Paul said.

As a team, Tulane (4-26) outshot Wichita State 49.1 to 45.2 percent. The Green Wave were especially hot from the field in the second half, as they connected at a 55.2 percent clip.

Seeded 12th, Tulane returns to action on Thursday, March 14 in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Championship against No. 5 seed and tournament host Memphis. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m., at FedEx Forum and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

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