Tulsa tops Western Michigan in tournament opener
Sophomore guard Curran Scott and senior forward Junior Etou posted 15 points apiece as Tulsa controlled Western Michigan for an 81-74 victory in opening-round play of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at the HTC Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Freshman guard Elijah Joiner contributed 11 points for Tulsa, which shot 50 percent from the field and led by 14 with two minutes to play. Junior guard Sterling Taplin added 10 points and six assists as the Golden Hurricane (2-1) advanced to meet Iowa State (1-2) in semifinal action on Friday.
Western Michigan senior guard Thomas Wilder paced everyone with 19 points and seven assists, but much of that came late for the All-MAC performer, who was forced into 6-of-19 shooting from the field. Junior guard Bryce Moore added 13 points for the Broncos (1-2), who shot just 37 percent and will face Appalachian State (2-1) in consolation play on Friday.
Taplin delivered a layup on the game’s first possession as the Golden Hurricane asserted themselves from the start. Junior forward Geno Artison’s tip-in at the 12:19 mark gave Tulsa an 18-7 margin and head coach Frank Haith’s team never relinquished the double-digit lead until 1:10 remained.
Western Michigan, the preseason choice to win the MAC’s Western Division, struggled to solve Tulsa’s zone. Wilder and sophomore swingman Reggie Jones, the Broncos’ top scorers, combined to convert just 3 of 21 field-goal attempts during the opening 28 minutes — during which time Tulsa built up a 54-38 lead.
Western Michigan pulled as close as 57-47 on junior forward Josh Davis’ breakaway jam with 8:00 to go, but Tulsa answered with DaQuan Jeffries’ putback dunk and slashing layup to regain control.
The Broncos canned five 3-pointers in the final 2:20 to make the final margin appear close.