No. 7 Tulsa Advances to Quarterfinals of American Athletic Conference Tournament
Uncasville, CT | The No. 7 seed Tulsa Golden Hurricane claimed a 61-50 victory over the No. 10 seed Wichita State Shockers in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament Friday evening at Mohegan Sun Arena.
From the very beginning Tulsa looked as if they owned the court, leading the entire first half, and heading into halftime with an eight-point 34-26 lead. Wichita State was within one early in the first quarter, but that brief moment was as close to the lead as they would get. The Golden Hurricane stepped on the gas pedal to start the third quarter and the Shockers were never able to gain any ground.
Friday evening was the second meeting in the week between the conference rivals, as the Shockers defeated the Golden Hurricane 71-49 in the regular season finale just four days prior; however, it would be Tulsa that would have the last laugh. The win gives the team the edge in the season series 2-1.
“Tonight we looked like the team who played them [Wichita State] on January 4th,” said Tulsa head coach Matilda Mossman, alluding to the 63-49 win in the first matchup between the programs.
Senior forward Crystal Polk, who led the team this season in scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.4) while shooting the team’s best 48.3-percent from the floor, was key to Tulsa’s dominating performance. She shot 58-percent from the field and 83-percent from the free-throw line. The inside presence of the Third Team All-American Athletic Conference honoree was just too much for Wichita State to handle. She finished with a game high 19 points and eight rebounds, followed by Rebecca Lescay with 13 points and three steals, and Alexis Gaulden with 10 points and nine assists.
Maddie Bittle also added 11 points, nine of which came from arc as she was 3-4 from three-point range. She’s missed a month of game play due to injury and has had limited practice since her return, stepping on the court only twice before the matchup.
“I just like to say how proud I am of our guys," stated coach Mossman in the postgame press conference. “The way they fought and handled the pressure, especially in the fourth quarter, was great. They got to us a little bit, but even though we weren't scoring we were getting stops and maintained the lead. I am proud of our effort defensively and offensively."
Seraphine Bastin was the leading scorer for Wichita State, capping off the night with a double-double 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Tulsa moves on to the quarterfinals against No. 2 seed UCF on Saturday, March 9th at 6:00 p.m. ET. The two only met once with the Knights taking the victory 60-44 in Orlando.