Tulsa overpowers Louisiana Tech to earn NCAA bid

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Cristina Esquivel

Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

Led by sophomore guard James Woodard the Tulsa Golden Hurricane conquered the Conference USA Championship with a 69-60 victory over No. 1 seed Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA Championship and punched its automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament.

They won the game by cooling off a very hot shooting team in Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs went on an 8-2 run in the second half and retook the lead 51-50 with 8:15 left in the game. Tulsa in the next seven minutes went on a 19-9 run to finish the game.

The Bulldogs just went cold. They made seven of 10 threes in the first half. They shot 23 percent from the field in the second half. The Golden Hurricanes persevered.

This is a Tulsa team that started the season 1-7 losing to teams like Wichita State and Creighton, teams expected to make a deep run in the tournament.

“Very happy and proud of the young men on our team for having a lot of perseverance and fighting through a tough non-conference schedule. They maintained a positive spirit about themselves,” said Tulsa head coach Danny Manning.

This game between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds had 17 lead changes all throughout. This game was extremely competitive.

Sophomore guard James Woodard put in 27 points to lead all players. His teammate, Rashad Ray is a sophomore as well and he tallied 15 points and four rebounds. Ray talked about going to the tournament,

“It’s a dream come true for me. I always wanted to look up at our gym and see our name come up and find out who we would play.”

Tulsa had not been to the tournament since 2003. They will be making their 15th appearance in the tournament.

For Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi, they play the waiting game to find out their NCAA tournament possibilities.

Selection Sunday as always will be closely watched and hotly debated.

Luis Barrio may be reached @Luis_Barrio17 and [email protected]