ORONO — The frigid air outside carried onto the court at the Memorial Gym on Friday night in the Tip-Off Tournament opener between Tulane University and the University of Maine women’s basketball teams.
Both teams were ice cold from the floor but, in the end, the Green Wave made shots when it counted, scoring the game’s last eight points to beat the Black Bears 42-34.
UMaine missed its last eight field goal attempts and went scoreless over the game’s final 4:54.
UMaine will now play Harvard at 4 p.m. Saturday in the consolation game.
Tulane will play Dayton in Saturday’s 2 p.m. championship game.
Dayton held off Harvard 72-66 behind JaVonna Layfield’s 20 points, 22 rebounds and four steals and Jenna Burdette’s 17 points and four assists. Harvard received 16 points and three assists from Katie Benzan, 13 points and 13 rebounds from Taylor Rooks and 11 points and 11 rebounds from Jeannie Boehm.
Senior guard Kolby Morgan had a game-high 18 points for the Green Wave including a critical 3-pointer with 2:16 left to give Tulane its largest lead of the game at 39-34.
Fanny Wadling scored Maine’s last points on a jumper from the paint with 4:54 remaining and Harlyn Wyatt gave Tulane the lead for good by converting a layup off a Sierra Cheatham pass with 2:53 remaining.
After a UMaine miss, Morgan got the rebound and made an outlet pass before racing up court and completing the sequence with a long 3-pointer from the right side of the key.
She had fired up an air ball minutes earlier but said she knew she had to keep shooting.
“They had helped over too much on the other side so I put my hands up and Sierra saw me and got me the ball,” said Morgan, who averaged 19.2 points per game a year ago.
Morgan sewed up the win with three free throws over the final 34 seconds.
“It was a hard-fought game on both sides. It was really intense throughout the whole game,” said Morgan. “Nobody shot well but you have to continue shooting and that’s what we did.”
Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said they felt fortunate to get the win.
“It was an ugly game, definitely a defensive battle,” she said. “Neither team shot great but I was proud of our kids. We had a lot of young kids rotating through our lineup and I was happy we were able to finish it out over those last 12 minutes. Sometimes when you aren’t shooting well, you need your defense to chip in.”
Tulane held UMaine to four points in the second and fourth quarters and the Black Bears shot just 14-for-53 from the floor, 3-for-23 from beyond the 3-point arc for the game.
“I was really happy with our defense. When you hold a team to 42 points, you put yourself in pretty good position to get a win,” said UMaine coach Amy Vachon. “We just didn’t make our shots. You aren’t going to win many games scoring four points in a quarter. We have one of the best shooting teams I’ve ever seen. It will come around.”
“We were executing our plays but the shots just weren’t falling,” said UMaine junior guard Tanesha Sutton, who had a team-high 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Morgan had nine rebounds to go with her 18 points. Meredith Schulte had 10 points and six rebounds for Tulane, which shot 14-for-49 from the floor and 4-for-15 behind the arc. Wyatt had seven rebounds and five points and Kayla Manuirirangi had a game-high six assists.
Sutton had five steals to go with her 13 points and 10 rebounds. Millan was the only other Black Bear with more than four points as she had five to go with five rebounds. Wadling had six rebounds and Dor Saar had three assists.
Tulane took a 19-16 lead into the intermission after the Black Bears shot just 2-for-13 in the second quarter including an 0-7 showing from beyond the 3-point arc.
Tulane was 2-for-16 from the floor in the first period.
However, the Green Wave was 3-for-7 beyond the three-point arc in the first half while UMaine was 0-for-11.
Tulane had four missed shots and a turnover in its first five possessions as UMaine raced out to a 6-0 lead.
UMaine scored only two points over the final seven minutes of the second period and Tulane received baskets from Wyatt and Schulte to take a three-point lead into the half.