SAN ANTONIO, Tex. – Three Lady Bears had double-doubles to lead Shaw past #15 Rollins 87-71 in a game played at Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s University. With the win, the Lady Bears advance to play #2 Ashland for the Division II NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Friday night.
Crystal Harris led the Lady Bears with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Kyria Buford had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Aslea Williams scored 12 and pulled in 14 boards.
Rollins had no answer for Shaw’s “bigs” and could not find an outside shooting touch, hitting only five of 29 from beyond the arc and only 36.5 percent from the field. In contrast, Shaw sank 40.3 percent of its shots.
“Rollins is a good team,” said Shaw head coach Jacques Curtis. “You don’t get to the Final Four by being lucky. We had a good start and were able to ride it out. We went with our bigs and they did the job. Now we have the chance to win the national championship.”
The Lady Bears broke on top early, then built a 20-point lead before halftime. The Tars fought back in the second, trimming the Shaw lead to as little as 12 early in the half employing a full-court press and sinking key shots.
“We knew they’d make the run. There were just times they played harder than we did,” said Curtis. “We beat a good team tonight.”
The game started slowly, with neither team hitting the scoreboard for nearly two full minutes. Williams finally broke the ice with a jumper in the lane with 18:05 left in the first half.
It would be another three minutes before the Tars hit the scoreboard, and by then, Shaw had scored eight.
At the 12:52 mark, Shemieka Brown missed a jumper, got her own rebound and hit the layup to give Shaw a 15-5 lead.
Rollins fought back, trimming the Shaw lead to only four when Ashley Jones hit a three pointer for the Tars with 10:20 left on the first half clock.
Shaw then reeled off a 17-2 scoring run, culminating in a Sequoyah Griffin layup on the fast break that gave Shaw a 36-17 lead with 5:47 left in the half. The Lady Bears would build the lead to as many as 22, and led by 18 at the half, 48-30.
Buford hit a layup to open the scoring in the second half, but the Tars responded with an eight-point run punctuated by Jasmine Bradley’s layup that cut the Shaw lead to 50-38.
With 12:56 left in the game, Paris Moore hit a jumper in the paint for the Tars, was fouled, and sank a free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play to trim Shaw’s lead to 13.
Buford and Harris then combined for six straight points, extending the lead to 19 and effectively putting the game out of reach, even with 11:31 left on the clock. It took five minutes for the Tars to cut the lead to 13 again, and the Lady Bears answered with five straight.
In addition to the three double-doubles, Shaw was led in assists by Brittney Spencer and Allyssa Lane who had three apiece.
For Rollins, Jones and Paris Moore led the way with 13 points apiece. Three players had five rebounds and another three had four apiece. McDaniel had three assists to pace the Tars.
Shaw will now face Ashland, the second-ranked team in the nation, in the title game Friday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern. The Eagles are led by Kari Daugherty who averages 21.2 points and 14.0 rebounds per game.
“We’re going to pound the ball inside,” said Curtis of the upcoming game, “and they’re going to pound the ball inside. We hope to have a chance to play a triple-post against them with all three of our bigs (Williams, Buford and Harris) in the game at a time. We haven’t had a chance to play our jumbo offense yet, but this might be the game.”