Four Tulsa players scored in double-figures as the Golden Hurricane claimed a 20-point victory, 81-61, over Abilene Christian in front of 407 fans Saturday afternoon at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Sophomores Ashley Clark and Kelsee Grovey shared scoring honors with 14 points apiece, while freshman Stevi Parker and sophomore Antoinet Webster chipped in with 10 points, respectively.
Tulsa improved to 4-3 on the season, while Abilene Christian fell to 6-3 with the largest deficit of its three losses.
The Wildcats had three double-digit scorers as Suzzy Dimba led the way with 16 points, and Renata Marquez and Lizzy Dimba had 14 points apiece.
The Hurricane shot 45-percent for the game, while holding Abilene Christian to 33-percent from the field and just 16.7 percent from three-point range. Tulsa received solid contributions from the bench with 40 points and 23 rebounds from the reserves. Tulsa also forced the Wildcats into 24 turnovers.
Tulsa had a 19-point halftime lead, but Abilene Christian trimmed it to six points in the second half. The Wildcats scored the first nine points in the first two minutes of the second half to slice the Tulsa lead to 42-32 at the 18:02 mark. Abilene Christian cut its' deficit to under 10 points, 42-34, on a Whitney West layup at the 17:11 mark.
"We just didn't get off to a very good start in the second half," said Tulsa Head Coach Matilda Mossman said. "We have a lot of nice kids, we don't' have a blood thirsty hunger that I'd prefer. We need to go after teams when we have them down because right now we let them come back. We finally found the next gear and got the lead back up, but I am not happy with just outscoring them by one in the second half."
Tulsa went ahead by 13 points at the 15:41 mark with a 49-36 lead before the Wildcats snipped the lead to six points twice over the next four minutes at 51-45 with 12:25 to play and 53-47 at the 12:02 mark.
Six points was as close the Wildcats would make it though. Tulsa went on a 14-0 run over the next 4:03 to build the lead back to 20 points at 67-47 when Steve Parker hit a jumper with 8:26 remaining in the contest.
The Hurricane kept its lead between 18 and 23 points over the final eight minutes taking its largest lead of 23 points with 2:10 remaining when Jasmine Vasquez's layup made the score 79-56.
It took the Hurricane some time before scoring its first points of the game. It was 2:20 before Tulsa scored its first basket, coming on a Kelsee Grovey jumper, then Tulsa took its first lead at 3-2. Mariah Turner's layup at the 16:27 mark knotted the score at 5 points apiece, and Turner added a free throw and jump-hook to put the Hurricane ahead 8-5.
Tulsa never trailed the rest of the game after taking that three-point lead, building its first half lead to as many as 20 points twice.
The Hurricane took a double-digit lead on a three-pointer by Grovey with 5:55 remaining in the first half to make the score 25-13. Tulsa scored the next eight points on free throws by Liesl Spoerl and layups by Webster, Grovey and Ashley Hughes for a 33-13 lead at the 3:30 mark.
Abilene Christian outscored Tulsa 10-9 in the final three minutes of the first half as the first 20 minutes ended with the Hurricane ahead 42-23.
In the first half, Tulsa's Parker scored a team-high eight points, followed by seven points from Grovey and Ashley Hughes. The Hurricane got 20 points off the bench and shot 42-percent from the field. Tulsa forced 17 Wildcat turnovers with 11 steals, while scoring 14 points off those turnovers.
The Hurricane women go on the road next Sunday at Kansas for a 2 pm game, then plays in the Fordham Tournament in New York City, Dec. 29-30. Tulsa faces Harvard in the first game, then will play either Fordham or UNC-Greensboro the following day.
Tulsa will not return to the Donald W. Reynolds Center until Saturday, January 4th when the Hurricane women take on Valparaiso in a non-conference game at 2:30 p.m. The women's game follows the Tulsa men vs. Cal State Fullerton, which begins at 12 noon.