Sports journalist James Taylor discusses the Tulsa women’s basketball team’s much-needed triumph over Southern Methodist University last Wednesday.
Sounds of joy and elation echoed in the tunnel at the Reynolds Center as the Tulsa women’s basketball team headed back to the locker room after snapping a five-game losing streak against SMU. Tulsa relied heavily on defense and an explosive offense in the fourth quarter to finalize a 49-35 win against the Mustangs. Junior guard Alexis Gaulden led the way for the Golden Hurricane with 16 points.
SMU started off the game with a layup by Marie Olson two minutes into the first quarter; however, the lead was quickly taken back by Gaulden’s three pointer on the next possession. The teams would continue to trade baskets in the first quarter with neither team able to get more than a two-point lead until Brady Morgan hit a three pointer with 54 seconds remaining to give Tulsa the 10-7 advantage. That would be the last score of the first quarter.
The second quarter began with Kendrian Elliott extending Tulsa’s lead to 12-7, but a pair of SMU baskets tied the score at 12-12 with 7:31 remaining in the second quarter. Tulsa then got a three pointer from Gaulden and a pair of jumpers from Crystal Polk and Rebecca Lescay to finish off the scoring in the second half with a 19-14 lead.
The third quarter started off with Lescay hitting a jumper to extend the lead to seven points. That would be the largest the lead of the third quarter. SMU was not a team to give up, and they clawed back, cutting the lead to two points with 3:43 left in the third quarter. Tulsa responded later with a three pointer by Maddie Bittle in the corner off an inbounds play that gave them a five-point lead. A pair of free throws were traded by each team, and Tulsa had a 29-24 advantage going into the last quarter.
The pivotal fourth quarter started off with a basket by Lescay following a steal from Elliott. Tulsa’s defense strung together four consecutive possessions where they were able to force SMU into a turnover and get a steal. Tulsa continued their stout defense and had contributions from Lescay, Bittle, Polk, and Gaulden as they went on a 15-3 run from the beginning of the fourth quarter to three minutes remaining in the game. Tulsa saw the lead dwindle slightly as they closed out the game with a 49-35 victory.
Gaulden led the team with 16 points, marking the second game in a row that she reached that total. She also added eight assists and six rebounds. Lescay added 12 points, just short of her season high of 14, to go along with two assists. Polk scored eight points of her own and led the team in rebounding with eight.
The win saw Tulsa hold onto a first half lead to get the victory after failing to do so in the previous two games against Memphis and Temple. This is largely due to the 22 turnovers caused by Tulsa throughout the game and the 15 points they scored off turnovers. It was also Tulsa’s 10th win of the season, which matches their win total from last season.
Tulsa currently sits in 6th place in the American Athletic Conference standings with a record of 4-5, which bests their total of three wins from last season in conference play. Tulsa faces Tulane on Sunday, who currently sit in fifth place the Golden Hurricane has the chance to move ahead of them with a victory.