James Woodard scored a game-high 27 points to lead Tulsa to the Conference USA Championship with a 69-60 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday morning at the Don Haskins Center. Tulsa wins its 11th straight game, improves to 21-12 overall and will be making the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the 2003 season.
After trailing 35-34 at intermission, Tulsa out-scored LA Tech by a margin of 35-25 in the second half for the victory. Tulsa dominated in the paint with a 26-6 advantage over LA Tech, and had 15 points off Tech turnovers. Tech
Rashad Ray added 15 points and Shaquille Harrison 10 for the Hurricane. Harrison added a game-high eight points and Peete had seven boards. Kenneth Smith had 16 points, Kenyon McNeail 15, Alex Hamilton with 12 and Chris Anderson 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Tulsa took a 48-43 lead at the 10:56 mark when James Woodard connected on a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key. Tech took a 51-50 lead on two straight treys by McNeail, the second coming with 8:15 on the game clock.
Ray's driving layup put Tulsa back ahead by one point, 52-51, with less than seven minutes to play. Three free throws by Rashad Smith put Tulsa ahead by four points at 55-51, then Woodard hit two freebies of his own at the 4:30 mark to give Tulsa a 57-51 lead.
Tulsa then finished out the game out-scoring LA Tech 12-9 over the final 2:21, making its final six free throws and 8 of their last 12.
LA Tech scored 21 of its 35 first-half points from beyond the arc, as the Bulldogs were on fire from three-point range in the first half knocking down 7-of-10 treys for 70 percent. The Hurricane was nearly as efficient, connecting on 4-of-6 3-pointers for 66 percent.
The Bulldogs came out of the starting blocks hitting their first two 3-pointers, while after a miss by Tulsa on the opening possession Tulsa connected on its next three shots - a layup and jumper by Harrison and a 3-pointer by Woodard.
Tech jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but the Hurricane responded to take an 11-6 lead at the 16:18 mark on a layup by D'Andre Wright. LA Tech knotted the score at 11 by scoring the next five points.
The first 20 minutes went back and forth as there were 10 lead changes and seven ties as the Bulldogs went into intermission with a 35-34 lead. After Tulsa's five-point lead, there was not another first-half lead for either team larger than four points.
The Hurricane was plagued with foul trouble in the first half as four players had at least two personals with Smith, Lew Evans and D'Andre Wright and Brandon Swannegan with three fouls. Tech was 8-of-15 from the free throw line, while Tulsa did not attempt a free throw until 3:11 left in the opening period and finished the first 20 minutes 4-of-6 from the line.
Woodard led the Hurricane with nine first-half points, all coming on 3-pointers, while Rashad Ray and Shaquille Harrison added six points apiece. Tech's Alex Hamilton has 10 points, Kenneth Smith nine and McNeail eight to pace the Bulldogs.
There will be an official NCAA Selection Show Watch Party at the Donald W. Reynolds Center Sunday afternoon beginning at 4:30 p.m. The NCAA selection show on CBS begins at 5 p.m.