Tulane stays undefeated in women’s basketball conference play with win over UCF, 60-59

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NEW ORLEANS – The Tulane University women’s basketball team defeated UCF, 60-59, at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse. The win extends the Green Wave’s win streak to seven games overall and six in conference play. The 6-0 start to American Athletic Conference play marks the best start in league action in the history of the program.

Tulane (11-8, 6-0) outrebounded UCF (10-7, 2-3) 39-38. The Green Wave shot .357 (22-58) from the field, .303 (10-33) from three and .750 (6-8) from the free throw line, while holding the Knights to .350 (21-60) from the floor and .250 (5-20) from behind the arc. The 10 made threes were a season-high for the Olive and Blue and marked the first time since Nov. 18, 2018 Tulane made 10 or more shots from behind the arc. The Green Wave logged 19 assists on their 22 made baskets.

“I’m just really proud of our team here,” Green Wave head coach Lisa Stockton said. “The nice thing is we’ve had some great competition and we’ve been able to pull them out at the end. We’re able to finish them and that says so much for the character of this team.”

Junior Krystal Freeman led the Green Wave with 19 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals, while senior Kayla Manuirirangi added 19 points, including a career-high six made three pointers, five rebounds and three assists. Junior Sierra Cheatham and sophomore Mia Heide were tops on the team with four assists apiece.

After trading baskets for the first nine minutes of the third quarter, the Knights closed the period on a 9-0 run to take a 49-45 lead going into the fourth. Tulane opened the fourth quarter with a 6-2 run to tie the game at 51 with 5:20 to play.

After a UCF basket, Tulane took a 54-53 lead on a three from Manuirirangi. The Knights came back to take a 57-54 lead with 2:41 left on the clock. After two free throws apiece from Freeman and sophomore Dynah Jones, the Green Wave took a 58-57 lead with 1:20 left. The Knights came down and knocked down two of their own to put UCF up 59-58 with 1:11 to play.

On the next possession, Freeman knocked down a 15-foot jumper off an assist from Cheatham to give the Wave a 60-59 lead. Freeman forced a turnover on UCF’s next possession to solidify the win for Tulane.

“They trap a lot and their press is always very tough,” Manuirirangi said. “We practiced how we would break it a lot in practice. We just knew we needed to find the open man. We just found the gaps, and everyone moved the ball really well.”

Both teams traded blows in the first quarter and the game was tied at 16 going into the second quarter. Manuirirangi led the way for the Green Wave with seven points in the opening period.

After a UCF basket to start the second quarter, Tulane went on an 8-0 run to take a 24-18 lead with five minutes to play in the first half. Manuirirangi highlighted the run with two threes. The Knights ended the half on a 10-3 run to take a 28-27, but Freeman stopped the run with a three at the buzzer to give the Wave a 30-28 lead at halftime.

Manuirirangi led Tulane with 13 points, 12 of which came from threes, in the first half. Tulane logged 10 assists on 11 made baskets and 16 rebounds. The Green Wave shot 40.7 (11-27) percent from the field and 42.9 (6-14) from three in the opening half.

Brittany Smith led UCF with 20 points and nine rebounds on the night.

The Green Wave will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 25, as they travel to USF. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. in Tampa, Fla.

Tickets for the 2019-20 season can be purchased by calling 504-861-WAVE (9283), logging on to TulaneTix.com or visiting the ticket office at the James W. Wilson Jr. Center.

Tulane University is located in the city of New Orleans. It is a city built on tradition and resiliency. The lessons Green Wave student-athletes have learned through their connection with this university and city have BUILT doctors, lawyers, business leaders, conference champions, all-conference players, All-Americans, professional athletes and NCAA tournament teams. The city of New Orleans has shaped us into who we are today. We are One City. We are Tulane. We are NOLA BUILT. Check out our story at NolaBuilt.com.

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