NEW ORLEANS, La. – Nationally-ranked Charlotte came into its Conference USA men's basketball game with Tulane on Saturday with two top candidates for all-conference honors. Those candidates lived up to their advance billing. Curtis Withers and Eddie Basden combined for 53 points and 22 rebounds as the 23rd-ranked 49ers defeated the Green Wave, 86-67, at Fogelman Arena.
Tulane (9-14, 3-9 C-USA) jumped to a 12-10 lead early in the game, but Charlotte (19-4, 10-2) exploded on a 27-8 run by taking advantage of eight Green Wave turnovers to build a 37-20 lead with 5:54 to go.
"In the first half, they were capitalizing on our turnovers and making us play faster and feel less comfortable," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "That's where we miss Marcus."
Tulane was playing without senior point guard Marcus Kinzer, who suffered an ankle injury on Jan. 19th against UAB. He has now missed two complete games and parts of four others due to the injury.
Charlotte build the lead to 47-29 at the break as Tulane committed 14 first-half turnovers. The 49ers scored 21 points off turnovers in the half.
Basden, a 6-5 senior forward and the Defensive Player of the Year for Conference USA last season, finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and four steals. Withers, a 6-8 junior forward, scored 26 points with eight rebounds. They were guarded for much of the game by Green Wave freshmen Donnie Stith and David Gomez.
"Going into the game I was concerned about Withers and Basden and their physical play," Finney said. "Especially matching up against our freshmen. They came out and took advantage of our youth at those positions. Basden can get his own shots; he shoots the ball well; he's a physical rebounder. With the way you have to guard [Brendan] Plavich outside to 28 feet, he had a lot of lanes to drive."
Plavich, who leads the nation in three-pointers, drilled four in the game, all in the first half. He finished with 14 points. After that trio, Charlotte had just 19 points from the rest of its team.
Tulane was led by junior center Quincy Davis who scored 14 points with seven rebounds. Freshman Taylor Rochestie added 12 points, five assists and four rebounds, while classmate Matt Wheaton scored 11.
"We allowed too many second chance points; they were aggressive on the glass," Finney said. "That was a big factor in that stretch in the first half when they took the lead. When you're playing an offensive team like Charlotte, allowing 10 offensive rebounds in the first half is too many."
In addition to the turnover margin in the first half, Charlotte had a 14-5 advantage on second-chance points.
After the tough first half, however, Tulane rallied to outscore the 49ers, 40-37, in the second half. The Green Wave turned the ball over just six times in the second half while outrebounding Charlotte, 22-16. Tulane also shot 44.8 percent (13-of-29) in the second half while holding Charlotte to 43.3 percent (13-of-30). The 49ers scored 24 points from the line in the game while Tulane had just 13.
"In the second half, we played with more poise," Finney said. "We didn't have the turnovers that allowed them to get easy baskets."
Tulane returns to action on Wednesday evening, hosting TCU in another Conference USA tilt at Fogelman Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 504-861-WAVE.
#23 Charlotte Sinks Green Wave, 86-67
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