The Southern men’s basketball team had a seven-point lead against Tulane with six minutes remaining Wednesday night in the F.G. Clark Center.
But the Green Wave outlasted the Jaguars and finished on an 18-5 run to come away with a 79-73 victory.
“They wore us down to where we made some mistakes and they got to some loose balls, and we were short on some shots,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “I think their physicality took a toll on us.”
Southern began the game short-handed as starting guard Cameron Monroe and top reserve guard Yondarius Johnson were declared ineligible because of insufficient documentation relating to their course work.
Banks said he learned of the paperwork snafu “in the last 24 hours” and he was unsure where the two players stand. The Jaguars (0-3) play at North Florida on Saturday and Florida on Monday.
“We’ve got to become better and sharper as it relates to taking care of the business on campus with guys’ paperwork,” Banks said. “We’ve got to cross the T’s and dot the I’s and take care of the small things. We shouldn’t be in this predicament at the point in the season.”
Johnson’s absence was particularly harmful because Banks said his size (6-foot-4) would have been useful against 6-3 Green Wave guard Louis Dabney, who scored a game-high 24 points, including nine during the finishing run.
The other starting guard, Jonathan Stark, had 19 points, and forward Jay Hook scored 18 for Tulane (2-0), which hosts Loyola-Chicago at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“With (Dabney) out there as a point guard and Jonathan Stark out there as a point guard, it’s kind of how we like to play,” Green Wave coach Ed Conroy said. “They were gearing to try to stop Jonathan because he had some success early (10 first-half points), and Lou really brought it to them in the second half.”
Freshman guard Trelun Banks, playing 34 minutes partly because of the absences, led the Jaguars with 21 points, Malcolm Miller scored 18, and Calvin Godfrey had 13.
“Trelun stepped up big,” coach Banks said. “He played a whole lot more minutes than normal at this point.”
Southern’s bench grew even shorter as three players — Frank Snow, Tre Lynch and Damian Goodwin — fouled out.
“We definitely had to make an adjustment of the guys that we played that usually wouldn’t have logged that many minutes,” coach Banks said. “I think under the circumstances of what we were dealt at the last minute, the guys really fought.”
Tulane extended its one-point halftime lead to five before Banks ignited the Southern offense.
He made two driving layups before Miller hit a turnaround 3-pointer that gave the Jaguars a 49-48 lead, their first advantage since the first eight minutes of the game.
The lead changed hands six times before Banks’ 3-pointer off a steal and Godfrey’s put-back pushed Southern’s lead to 66-60 with seven minutes left.
Dabney scored three points during an 8-2 run that pulled the Green Wave even at 68 with 4:30 left.
After a drive by Banks put the Jaguars ahead, Hook’s free throw and driving basket gave Tulane a one-point lead.
Two free throws by Stark and a three-point play Dabney pushed the lead to six before Miller halved it with a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left.
Miller, Southern’s leading scorer in its first two games, was just 5-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-11 on 3-pointers.
“I’ve got to be more consistent,” Miller said. “We had the lead and didn’t execute the way we needed to to put them away. We can’t relax. Whether we’re up or down, we have to play like we’re down.”
Stark made one of two free throws, Banks missed a 3-pointer, and the Green Wave got the ball on the alternating possession on a tied-up rebound with 13 seconds left.
Dabney’s two free throws concluded the scoring with 12 seconds left.
“We lost focus — that’s been our problem last three games,” Trelun Banks said. “We don’t box out, and we stop talking on defense.”