Houston edges Tulane in C-USA finale

Advocate staff photo by DERICK HINGLE  -- Tulane's Ricky Tarrant drives past Bethune-Cookman's Ricky Johnson on Nov. 13, 2012, in New Orleans. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by DERICK HINGLE -- Tulane's Ricky Tarrant drives past Bethune-Cookman's Ricky Johnson on Nov. 13, 2012, in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS — For his final appearance in Devlin Fieldhouse, Kendall Timmons put together a vintage performance.

After spending most of his senior season as a defensive specialist and deferring to high-scoring teammates, the Green Wave’s former top scorer exploded for a season-high 22 points and did so with some high flying dunks and hard-charging drives to the goal.

However, it also ended the way much of his five-year stint at Tulane did, with a maddening and difficult-to-process defeat. Houston Joseph Young scored with two seconds remaining, knocking down a contested leaner from the elbow while drawing a foul to clinch the Cougars’ 96-94 victory.

The loss was Tulane’s fourth straight and drops the Green Wave to the No. 8 seed in the Conference USA tournament where it will face No. 9 Marshall at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The winner of that game will match up against top-seeded Memphis in the next game.

In a game that featured nine lead changes, six ties, and 70 total free throws, it was a stunning loss for coach Ed Conroy to process.

“It is tough. It’s a tough locker room right now,” Conroy said. “They put a lot into it, and it’s hard to deal with but we have to deal with it.”

In a regulation game that lasted 2 hours, 40 minutes, Tulane shot 47 free throws, its most since 2007 and sixth-most in school history, converting 33 of them. The 70 percent clip on its face didn’t bother Conroy, but he expressed frustration in how many points were left at the charity stripe.

The pace was frenetic for the entire 40 minutes, and that included everyone, highlighted by a verbal altercation between Conroy and Houston coach James Dickey, resulting in a simultaneous technical foul on both benches.

But it was the on-court frenzy that caught the most attention. Nearly all 40 minutes of Saturday night’s game were filled with drama.

Tulane slammed the pedal down from the opening tip, utilizing its furious tempo to its advantage to open up a 17-9 lead in the opening seven minutes. Not only did the Green Wave forcefully drive into the paint, but it also knocked down its first three 3-pointers.

With less than four minutes remaining in the half, Tulane extended its lead to 44-33 but failed to capitalize and push the double-digit lead out into a comfortable advantage. e_SClBInstead, the Cougars responded with acceleration of its own, kicking into an equally high gear late in the half to finish the stanza shooting 65.4 percent from the field.

Houston charged back from a 12-point deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation as well, once again sapping Tulane of its momentum.

“This was probably the craziest one I’ve been a part of,” Timmons said. “It was just a tough game.”