Action from the Tulane vs Indiana State in basketball Monday, December 17, 2007. Tulane's David Gomez steals the ball away from Indiana State's Isiah Martin and then tossed it to team mate Daniel Puckett who slam dunked it for two points in the first period.

Monday’s game against Tulane wasn’t the Big Easy the Indiana State’s men’s basketball team had in mind.

ISU knew the Green Wave were big, but the Sycamores couldn’t stop them from scoring … easily.

Tulane’s post players couldn’t be harnessed by ISU, and when Sycamore mental lapses were added to the mix, the result was an 80-68 loss at Fogelman Arena

on Monday

It was the fifth road loss in as many tries for ISU (4-5) this season.

Tulane shot 52.9 percent from the field and Tulane’s starting post players — David Gomez (19 points) and Robinson Louisme (12 points) weren’t slowed down by the Sycamores. Some of their points, and other production across Tulane’s lineup, came from mistakes on the defensive end, and that’s what had ISU frustrated after the game.

“Right now, I think it’s a mental thing as much as anything, especially on the road. I think the guys are frustrated because some of the stuff we’re doing is starting to work better, but we’re not reaping the benefits yet,” ISU coach Kevin McKenna said. “I told them the only way I know how to get out something like this is to work harder and figure out a way to grind out a win. You’ve got to believe this is going to happen. If you don’t work and you don’t believe, it won’t happen.”

It’s a familiar refrain for the Sycamores, one ISU’s coaching staff has been trying to impart to them, and a message they’re frustrated they put themselves in a position they have to keep hearing.

“Coach told us … he doesn’t have a magic wand. We just have to come out tough and play. We have to take it from somebody, because they’ve been taking it from us,” ISU point guard Gabe Moore said. “Everybody’s frustrated. We want this just as bad as the coaches want this … and it hurts. But we can’t stop fighting.”

ISU’s fate was cast just after halftime when lapses on defense helped Tulane build its cushion. The Sycamores trailed 35-32, but turned the ball over on the first possession of the half. A defensive breakdown in transition allowed Tulane’s Matt Wheaton to hit a 3-pointer. Marico Stinson had a lay-up attempt blocked by Louisme on the ensuing possession and David Sims drained another Tulane 3-pointer to put the Green Wave up 41-32.

“We came out in the first half weak and we came out in the second half weak. They outscored us 17-2 in the first two minutes of both halves,” said McKenna, referring to ISU going down by six points early in the game.

ISU gradually began to fight back, cutting Tulane’s lead to 53-48 at the 9:49 mark. ISU had a chance to cut the lead further when Tulane couldn’t convert on its next possession, but Lamar Lee missed a 3-pointer that would have cut the ISU deficit to one possession. It’s as close as ISU would get.

Tulane (6-3) would score on its next eight trips down the floor, with many of the points coming from ISU breakdowns. A Gomez 3-pointer with 4:28 to go made it 71-57 and ISU would not recover.

“We made a push, we got it back to five, then we starting making mental mistakes,” said ISU center Jay Tunnell, who returned to ISU’s starting lineup. “When we’re on the road, we have to take wins, we can’t expect them to be given to us. Right now, we’re not taking anything, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”

McKenna sees it as one of the biggest signs that the Sycamores need to get tougher.

“We don’t have that mental and physical toughness to say, ‘We’re back in this game, let’s make a stand,’” McKenna said. “Some of our guys are still learning, and it’s a frustrating thing, but we have to make better decisions, learn from our mistakes, and not make them again.”

ISU weren’t effective on the offensive end, worsening their situation. The Sycamores shot 32.5 percent from the field in the second half and were just 35.8 percent overall. Stinson, who led the Sycamores with 14 points, was 4 of 14 in the second half alone, perhaps pressing to get the Sycamores out of a hole.

ISU played with better energy and concentration in an entertaining first half that saw the lead change hands seven times with two ties. ISU went down 10-4 early, but ISU’s freshmen came to the rescue. With Isiah Martin, Aaron Carter and Lee all on the floor, ISU came back to take a 15-14 lead. Carter was especially effective on the offensive end, scoring all eight points during ISU’s rally.

But ISU’s difficulties containing Gomez and Louisme in the paint (they combined to go 5 of 7 from the field, scoring 10 points) was already evident, and ISU’s run coincided with both players taking a breather. When they returned, Tulane went back in front.

The lead seesawed between the teams in the final five minutes of the half, helped by Tulane’s awful 1 of 9 free throw shooting. An Eric Vianney 3-pointer with two seconds to go separated the two teams at the half, a shot that on greater meaning when Tulane started the second half well.

ISU’s final nonconference game before the Missouri Valley Conference season starts is Saturday at Hulman Center against Bowling Green.

Indiana State 68

Player min fg 3pt ft r a pf tp

McCoy 16 1-5 0-2 0-0 6 1 4 2

Tunnell 23 0-5 0-1 4-4 5 0 3 4

Moore 33 5-13 1-5 0-0 2 6 5 11

Marshall 31 3-8 1-3 5-5 3 4 3 12

Stinson 30 5-18 3-7 1-2 3 0 2 14

Arnold 19 1-4 0-1 2-2 6 1 2 4

Holmstrom 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Lee 14 1-3 1-2 0-0 1 2 1 3

Martin 21 5-7 0-0 0-0 5 0 3 10

Carter 12 3-4 2-3 0-0 1 0 2 8

Totals 24-67 8-24 12-13 *34 14 25 68

Tulane 80

Player min fg 3pt ft r a pf tp

Gomez 30 6-11 1-1 6-8 7 4 2 19

Puckett 18 3-4 0-1 3-5 4 1 3 9

Louisme 16 4-6 0-0 4-6 7 1 4 12

Sims 29 2-7 1-4 3-4 1 7 5 8

Wheaton 29 4-5 2-3 1-2 4 2 1 11

Richard 15 1-5 0-2 3-4 3 1 0 5

McQueen 9 2-4 0-0 0-2 2 1 1 4

Stith 24 2-5 0-1 0-0 6 2 0 4

Mayhane 3 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 2

Vianney 27 2-3 1-1 1-1 3 2 1 6

Totals 27-51 5-13 21-32 *39 21 17 80

Halftime score — Tulane 35, ISU 32. FG Pct. — ISU .358, Tulane .529. 3-pt FG Pct. — ISU .333, Tulane .385. FT Pct. — ISU .923, Tulane .656. (*) Includes team rebounds — ISU 2, Tulane 1. Turnovers — ISU 10, Tulane 14. Steals — ISU 9 (Stinson 4), Tulane 6 (Gomez, Puckett, Sims, Wheaton, Richard, Vianney 1). Blocks — ISU 2 (Martin, Tunnell 1), Tulane 5 (Gomez, Puckett, Louisme, McQueen, Stith 1). Att — 1,157.

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