Tulane women drop UNO in season opener

The Tulane women’s basketball team missed six shots on the first possession of its season opener against UNO, including five from point-blank range. The rim provided more resistance than the Privateers.

Despite starting slowly, the Green Wave raced to a 17-point halftime lead and coasted to an 81-46 victory Friday night at Devlin Fieldhouse behind career nights from juniors Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and Jamie Kaplan.

Tulane, which returned three starters from a 24-9 team, improved to 16-4 in opening games under coach Lisa Stockton. The Green Wave trails 30-20 in the series but is 10-1 against the Privateers in Stockton’s tenure.

UNO, which lost its top three scorers from a 3-23 team, led only twice, the last time at 8-7. Tulane went ahead for good on a layup by Tierra Jones that started a 17-1 run as the Privateers went without a field goal for more than six minutes.

The Wave led by at least 16 for the entire second half.

Ebomwonyi, a forward whose scoring average dipped from 6.2 as a freshman to 4.2 as a sophomore, set personal bests with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

“There’s been a real change in how she plays,” Stockton said. “She is playing so much more aggressively in practice. In the past, we worried about sometimes she played hard and sometimes she didn’t. She’s become a more consistent player, and she’s very difficult to do without on the floor.”

Kaplan had 13 assists, five more than her previous high. Nine of them came in the second half, when she made several nifty passes for easy baskets.

“It was good, I enjoyed it,” she said. “My teammates made my life easy.”

Danielle Davis led UNO with 14 points. No other UNO player scored in double figures, and the Privateers had 21 turnovers.

“We have a lot of youngsters, and I understand this is going to be a roller coaster ride for at least the first half of the season,” third-year UNO coach Keeshawn Davenport said. “They are not going to play too many teams like Tulane, but it surely helped prepare them.”

The first half wasn’t pretty. A little past the midpoint both teams were shooting 25 percent — Tulane at 6 of 26 and UNO at 4 of 16. The two teams also combined to miss all 10 of their 3-point attempts, but the Green Wave pulled away by forcing 13 turnovers and converting several of them into transition layups.

The Wave heated up after the break, sinking four consecutive 3-pointers in less than four minutes to go ahead 53-28 with 12:23 left. Freshman Leslie Vorpahl hit the last two and finished with 16 points.

Sophomore Chinwe Duru chipped in with 11 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.