Tulane women triumph in return

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 22, 2005

NEW ORLEANS–The backcourt tandem of freshman Ashley Langford and sophomore Nikki Luckhust scored 15 points each, and Langford posted the first double-double of her career with 11 assists as the Tulane University women’s basketball team enjoyed a triumphant return to the city of New Orleans with a 72-60 win over Central Connecticut State Sunday afternoon at Fogelman Arena.

The game was the first collegiate or professional game played in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area in late August, and it was only fitting that Crescent City native Alendra Brown scored the first points of the game with a layup just 24 seconds into the contest. The Tulane team was welcomed by 829 fans, and the Green Wave gave them something to cheer about in the 12-point win.

&#8220As many distractions as we had and as emotional as this week has been, I couldn’t be happier with our performance,” Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. &#8220We had a lot of pressure. The team really felt they had to win for our fans.”

Langford’s assist total ranks tied for second in Tulane single-game history, and is the most since Christy Thomaskutty posted 11 assists on Dec. 7, 1993 vs. Troy. Luckhurst notched 10 of her points in the first half while Langford did most of her scoring damage in the second stanza, hitting a pair of baskets and connecting on five of six free throws to help the Green Wave improve to 4-1. Central Connecticut State, meanwhile, falls to 2-6.

&#8220I’m so glad our fans got to see Ashley,” Stockton said. &#8220She’s an exciting player. She sets the tempo and she’s very mature for a freshman. Today, she played 40 minutes with her hand on the ball the whole time, and only had three turnovers. I’m happy she came home and had this type of game.”

Tulane led most of the game, but with 16:28 to play in regulation, Central Connecticut’s Gabriella Guegbelet hit a pair of free throws to tie things up at 40-all. From there, however, the Green Wave went on a 17-6 run over the next seven minutes to take a commanding 57-46 advantage.

Langford hit a jumper to break the 40-all deadlock, but Guegbelet answered with a basket of her own to retie the game. Luckhurst drilled her third 3-pointer of the afternoon to make it a 45-42 Tulane lead, and sophomore post player Dominique Philpots hit three consecutive baskets to put the Blue Devils at arm’s distance.

Central Connecticut cut the lead to seven at 61-54 with 4:48 to go, but the lead would dip below 10 points just once more the rest of the way as the Green Wave connected on 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch to ice the victory.

Philpots joined Langford and Luckhurst in double-digit scoring with 10, while chipping in six rebounds, four blocks and a steal. Junior guard Jami Montagnino paced the Green Wave with 10 rebounds and fell just one point shy of a double-double with nine points.

The Green Wave return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 20, when they travel to Baton Rouge to take on arch-rival LSU at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.