Tulane 58, Tulsa 56
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Kevin Sims scored 15 points, including a pair of free throws with 12.8 seconds left, as fourth-seeded Tulane defeated Tulsa 58-56 in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament on Thursday.
Sims’ free throws gave the Green Wave a 58-53 lead before Charles Ramsdell hit a 3-pointer for Tulsa with 4.4 seconds left to cut it to 58-56. Tulsa had another shot after Tulane’s Asim McQueen missed a pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds left, but Ramsdell could not get off a shot from midcourt before time expired.
David Gomez added 11 points for Green Wave (17-12), which will play top-seeded Memphis. The Tigers defeated Marshall 92-71 earlier Thursday.
Jamel McLean led Tulsa (20-11) with 13 points, including 10 in the second half to key a rally by the Golden Hurricane. Ramsdell scored 11 points. McLean also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Tulsa, the fifth seed, defeated East Caroline 65-50 in Wednesday’s opening round.
The game had some controversy with 13 seconds left. Sims was at the line and the scorer’s table told officials the Green Wave was in the double bonus. After Sims missed the first shot, the crew realized Tulane was actually still in the 1-and-1. After discussing the situation, officials ruled a jump ball, and Tulane got the ball out of bounds on the alternating possession.
“They apologized to me,” Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik said without elaborating further.
Tulsa played most of the game without Ben Uzoh, the team’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, who injured his knee in the first half.
The Golden Hurricane struggled outside the arc, hitting only 4-of-12 shots.
“Our defense is what won the game for us,” Tulane coach Dave Dickerson said. “We did a good job on their leading scorers and took away threes, and that was a big part of the game.”
Tulane led 31-23 at halftime after holding the Golden Hurricane to 28 percent shooting in the first half and forcing 13 Tulsa turnovers, leading to 17 Green Wave points.
Tulane was hindered from extending the lead further by 10 turnovers of its own.
No player was in double figures for either team in the first half. Gomez had nine points for the Green Wave, while no Tulsa player had more than four points.
Starting guards Rod Earls and Brett McDade were a combined 2-of-10 from the field in the half for the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa stayed within 6 points in the second half before taking a 43-42 lead on a jumper by Earls with just under 10 minutes to play.
McLean scored six straight Tulsa points to knot the game at 51 with 3:46 left.
But Chris Moore hit three free throws after he was fouled shooting beyond the arc on the Green Wave’s next possession to give Tulane the lead for good.
“In the second half, we came out with a lot more energy and took the fight to them,” McLean said. “We’ve just got to start out that way.”
Moore’s three free throws were contrary to how both teams shot from the line on the night. The Green Wave hit 15-of-28 for 54 percent, while Tulsa converted 50 percent of its free throws.
Wojcik said he thought his team played much better in the second half, but because of the bad start, they were not able to move to the next round.
“In that sense, we do have a lot of character and a lot of fight,” the Tulsa coach said of the better play in the second half. “But it’s got to come from them. It’s got to come earlier. I’ve never faulted them for effort. But as I’ve told them many times before—it’s not a matter of effort anymore. It’s about results.
“From that standpoint, this is a tough pill to swallow.”