Tulane Defeats Houston Cougars, 63-61

On Wednesday evening against Houston, with the score tied at 61, Rochestie worked the clock down and then tossed a ducking, double-pump runner up and in from 16 feet out to lift the Green Wave to a 63-61 victory in Conference USA men's basketball action at Hofheinz Pavilion.

HOUSTON, Texas – Tulane is settling into a pattern. Play tough defense, keep games close, then turn it over to freshman Taylor Rochestie in the final seconds. On Wednesday evening against Houston, with the score tied at 61, Rochestie worked the clock down and then tossed a ducking, double-pump runner up and in from 16 feet out to lift the Green Wave to a 63-61 victory in Conference USA men's basketball action at Hofheinz Pavilion.

"There are guys who want the ball in those situations, and they usually get it," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "We wanted Taylor to get the ball; in the timeout I asked him how he felt and he said he would get it. He did a great job."

It was the third straight game that the freshman from California had the chance to win or tie the game in the final seconds. Last Wednesday against UAB, the 6-1 guard knocked down a three-pointer to force overtime, then hit another three to win the game at the buzzer. On Saturday at Southern Miss, Tulane trailed by three in the final seconds, but Rochestie's effort was just off the mark as the Green Wave lost.

Rochestie finished the game with a team-best 13 points while playing a career-high 38 minutes. Green Wave senior point guard Marcus Kinzer played just four minutes as he continues to battle an ankle injury.

While Rochestie's shot was the game-winner, the difference in the game was the basics. Tulane (8-10, 2-5 C-USA) played an excellent defense game, holding Houston (12-8, 3-3 C-USA) to just 35.5 percent (22-of-62) shooting from the field; the Green Wave dominated the glass, outrebounding the Cougars 52-30; and the Wave was outstanding from the line, connecting on 17-of-21 (81 percent) free throws.

"We played defense, we rebounded, and we didn't give up open looks," Finney said. "We made the extra effort all night all over the court and that is the difference in winning."

Sophomore Chris Moore turned in one of his most complete games, playing 22 minutes, scoring nine points, and playing tenacious defense on Houston star Andre Owens, who still scored a game-high 23 points.

"Chris played the total game tonight," Finney said. "He played hard-nosed and had his best defensive game. He was a big key for us tonight."

However, Moore's defense was almost not enough. With the Wave on top, 61-58, with 28 seconds to go, Owens buried a deep three-pointer with Moore in his face, knotting the game at 61; only to set up Rochestie's heroics.

With the score tied at 35, Houston came to life and forced four straight Tulane turnovers, rattling off seven unanswered points to take a 42-35 lead with 14:09 to go. With his team reeling, Finney called for timeout.

"We told them we have to keep being the aggressor," Finney said about the timeout. "We were playing tentative and passing up shots and having turnovers. You need to jump up and shoot when you are open. We have to be the aggressors."

The pep talk worked, on both ends of the court. Despite scoring just two field goals over the next eight minutes, the Wave defense held the Cougars scoreless for the next six minutes and without a field goal until the 6:37 mark in the game, building its lead to as many as seven points.

However, Houston, which entered the game with a perfect 8-0 record at home, was not done. After a Moore three-pointer made it 58-50 with 4:04 remaining, the Cougars scored five straight points, making it 58-55 with 2:29 on the clock. Donnie Stith hit one of two free throws and Rochestie knocked down a pair of foul shots to push the margin back to six with 1:50 to go. But the Wave would turn the ball over twice and miss one shot in the next 80 seconds, while Houston hit three free throws and then had Owens' three-pointer to tie the game with 28 clicks to go.

While Rochestie was the only player in double figures for the Green Wave, freshmen David Gomez and Matt Wheaton and Moore each added nine points, Gomez also tallied nine rebounds, while Wheaton had a career-high eight boards. Stith, another freshman, collected seven points with eight rebounds. Overall in the game, Tulane's freshmen combined for 38 points, 29 rebounds and 11 assists.

Tulane returns to action on Saturday, hosting nationally-ranked Louisville at Fogelman Arena at 7 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 504-861-WAVE.


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