Basketball journalist Hannah Robbins discusses the Golden Hurricane’s 80-72 win against Houston Baptist in the first game of the season
For their first game of the season, the Golden Hurricane went up against Houston Baptist at home. After a slow start, Tulsa came back by the end of the half and was able to beat Houston Baptist by a healthy margin. The Golden Hurricane was led by Jeriah Horne with a game-high 22 points and senior Martins Igbanu with 16.
At the start, it was clear that this was Tulsa’s first game of the season. After Igbanu missed the jump ball at the start, Houston had the first jump shot of the half, but Igbanu responded in kind. After a free throw by Igbanu and a layup by Elijah Joiner was met with two jump shots, Tulsa remained behind.
The game remained scoreless for several minutes, and Darien Jackson scored the lone layup to tie it up, but then couldn’t respond to a pair of three-pointers. Horne started to turn the tide with a jump shot and a three-pointer, but Tulsa was still failing to block shots.
As the half wore on, Tulsa tried to keep up with Houston Baptist, but could not respond. After Igbanu made four free throws in a row with five minutes left, Tulsa started to wake up. Houston Baptist brought their lead up to eight points, but shots by Horne and freshman Isaiah Hill brought Tulsa to within two of the lead. Horne went to the basket with 30 seconds left and hit a key jump shot. Hill’s layup with 13 seconds left had Tulsa leading by three as the teams went to the locker room for halftime.
From the start of the second half, both teams were trying hard to have the lead. However, after a jump ball was called three minutes in, Tulsa faltered. Houston Baptist scored five unanswered points. Horne made several shots, but Tulsa’s inability to defend against Houston left them at a six point deficit.
However, Tulsa managed to turn the game around. Layups by Horne and Igbanu brought Tulsa to tie Houston Baptist with 11 minutes left in the game, and didn’t let up. Tulsa continued to be solid at the line, with Horne bringing Tulsa ahead off two free throws. Shots by Joiner and Igbanu worked to extend their lead, and Tulsa never lost it.
Brandon Rachel made good use of his time in, scoring nine points as the half wound down, and shots by Horne and Joiner kept Houston Baptist from getting any traction. Tulsa ended the game on top, 80-72.
While this was a good first showing by Tulsa, Tulsa failed to connect on threes, which could hurt them as they move towards conference play. Houston Baptist is not a strong D1 school, and with the Golden Hurricane playing ranked teams further into the season, they don’t have room for simple mistakes like sloppy defense. The team was solid at the line however, and this got them through scoring droughts within the game. This season looks to be fruitful for the Golden Hurricane if they keep it up.