Slow start dooms Southern in loss at Tulane

NEW ORLEANS — Coach Roman Banks warned his team.

Southern’s foe Saturday night, Tulane, was known for going on runs, especially at the start of games.

Southern eventually came up short as Tulane won 68-65 at Devlin Fieldhouse. The hole the Jaguars dug themselves at the beginning did them in, Banks said.

“I was very displeased with our effort early,” he said. “I knew they would go for the kill early.”

Tulane ran out to an 11-0 run in the first 31/2 minutes. It was an uphill battle from there, but Southern nearly caught up. It wasn’t over for the Jaguars until shooting guard Derick Beltran missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left.

“Southern just kept coming, and they made some big shots in the second half and kept the energy up,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. “Our guys, it was important we got off to a fast start, get some energy in the building, but our energy waned in the second half and we almost paid a price for that.”

Tulane forward Josh Davis did all he could to keep that energy flowing. Davis had 20 points and 16 rebounds and made putbacks that kept the Wave in front.

“He was a matchup problem all night,” Banks said.

Guards Ricky Tarrant and Jordan Callahan each scored 16 for Tulane, and forward Kendall Timmons had 10.

Southern was led by point guard Jameel Grace with 18 points, Beltran with 14 and forward Javan Mitchell with 13.

Timmons sank three free throws in the last 1:43 that provided the margin of victory. But his misses each time he made one gave the Jaguars a chance.

Timmons made one of two free throws for the third consecutive time with 12.9 seconds showing, preceding Beltran’s last-second shot.

Timmons made a free throw with 1:43 left that gave the Wave a 66-60 lead. After a Southern turnover at 1:16, the Wave held the ball until the shot clock ran down but wound up turning it over. Southern’s Malcom Miller sank a 3 with 29.2 seconds left, cutting the Wave’s lead to 66-63.

After another Timmons free throw, Grace drove for a basket, bringing Southern to 67-65 with 15.3 seconds left.

Tulane scored the first 11 points. Southern’s first point came at 15:34, when Mitchell was fouled and made the first of two free throws. The Jaguars’ first basket didn’t come until 13:39, a layup by Mitchell. At that point, the Green Wave led 14-3.

Southern mounted a run behind Mitchell, coming to 15-10 with 11:24 left. It trailed 34-21 at halftime.

Southern scored the first two baskets of the second half, coming within 34-25. But Tarrant hit three big 3-pointers to push the lead to 50-33.