EL PASO, Texas – After needing nearly an entire half to solve the vaunted Princeton offense, Tulane University saw its comeback effort thwarted by Tiger big man Judson Wallace as the Green Wave fell 59-51 in the first round of the State Farm Sun Bowl Classic on Monday evening at the Don Haskins Center.
Tulane (4-5) will play Alabama State in the consolation round on Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. (Central). Princeton (6-3) will meet host UTEP in the championship.
Princeton ran its vaunted offense to perfection in the first half, then turned to Wallace in the second half. The 6-10 senior scored 20 of Princeton's 26 second-half points from the 15:44 to keep the Tigers ahead of the battling Green Wave.
Tulane trailed by as many as 23 in the first half as it turned the ball over 10 times and Princeton scored 13 points off the turnovers while shooting 61.9 percent (13-of-21) in the half.
For the game, Tulane shot just 37.5 percent (18-of-48) from the field, while Princeton became just the second team in the last two years to shoot over 50 percent (55.6%, 20-of-36) from the floor against Tulane. The Green Wave controlled the boards, 35-20, but could not overcome its 19 turnovers.
A fast break layup by Vytas Tatarunas, who scored 15 points with 11 rebounds off the bench to lead the Wave, brought Tulane within five at 41-36 with 8:06 remaining, but that was as close as it would get. Princeton's ball-control offense limited Tulane's shots and Wallace scored on backdoor layups, three-pointers, tip-ins and free throws to ice the victory.
In addition to Tatarunas' effort, senior Ben Benfield was in double figures with a season-high 12. Wallace led Princeton with 22 points while Will Venable had 11 points.
Princeton jumped out fast, connecting on eight of its first 10 shots to take a 20-2 lead. The Green Wave deficit grew to 23 at 31-8 with 3:29 to go in the half, however, five points from Tatarunas keyed a 10-2 Wave run to close the half, making it 33-18 at the break.
Tulane opened the second half with four unanswered baskets to pull within seven at 33-26, but the Tigers answered with seven straight points of their own to push the margin back to 14.
The Green Wave returns home for a New Year's Eve contest, hosting Virginia Military at 2 p.m. For ticket information, call 504-861-WAVE.
Tulane Fails Princeton Exam, 59-51
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