HOUSTON — It had been almost 20 years since the last time the Grambling State University women’s basketball celebrated a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Women’s Basketball Tournament championship, but that drought came to an end on Saturday afternoon as the Lady Tigers punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a 72-68 victory over Southern at the Delmar Fieldhouse.
Grambling State, the No. 3 seed in the SWAC Tourney, was the bridesmaid last season in the tournament championship in a loss to Texas Southern, but the Lady Tigers overcame a pair of hurdles in the tournament, first beating Texas Southern in the semifinals, and then capturing the tourney crown over one of their biggest rivals.
Grambling State (19-13) received the SWAC’s automatic berth to the 2018 NCAA Division I Basketball Championship. The Lady Tigers will find out who their opponent is during Monday night’s selection show, which is scheduled to air at 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN. A Celebration of Champions ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.
Shakyla Hill, who was named the 2018 SWAC Most Valuable Player in Saturday’s game, led the Grambling State offense with a double-double of 27 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Monisha Neal added 11 points, seven rebounds, one assists and one steal, while Jazmine Boyd tallied 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Briana Green paced Southern with 22 points, five rebounds, nine assists and one steal. Samantha Duncan contributed 12 points, nine points, one assists and two steals, while Courtney Parson chipped in 10 points, two rebounds one assists, two blocks and two steals.
Southern raced off to a 13-4 lead in the first quarter, but Grambling State cut the deficit to just two points, 19-17, at the end of the first. Grambling State led 30-26, after a layup by Takerra Parsons with 5:05 remaining in the second, but Southern used a 13-7 run, capped by a buzzer beater by Samantha Duncan, to take a small 39-37 advantage into the break.
In the final quarter, Hill sank a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:26 remaining, giving the Lady Tigers a 68-62 lead. Southern closed the gap to 68-66 with 34 seconds left, but Justice Coleman scored on a layup and Hill made one-of-two at the free-throw line to seal the Grambling State victory.
Inside The Numbers
* Grambling State shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58) from the floor and 61.5 percent (16-of-26) from the free-throw line.
* Southern was 29-of-64 (45.3 percent) shooting and 6-of-9 (66.7 percent) from the charity stripe.
* Grambling State finished with 35 rebounds, with 27 coming off the defensive glass.
* The Jaguars registered 37 rebounds, including nine coming off the offensive glass.
* Grambling State finished with 15 bench points, 40 points in the paint, 15 points off turnovers and 12 fast break points.
* Southern registered 28 points in the paint, 21 bench points, 14 points off turnovers and two second-chance points.
* There were six ties and two lead changes.
News and Notes
* Shakyla Hill was named the 2018 SWAC Championship Most Valuable Player.
* Shakyla Hill and Monisha Neal were selected to the All-Tournament Team.
* Grambling State made its second straight SWAC Tournament title appearance (lost to Texas Southern last season).
* The Lady Tigers’ last SWAC Tournament title came in 1999 under head coach David Ponton.
* Grambling State is the only school in the conference to win a women’s basketball postseason game (defeated Ole Miss in the WNIT last season).
* Shakyla Hill made her 95th consecutive start, which dates back to the 2015-16 season.
* Jazmin Boyd is now 25 points (975) away from 1,000 career points for her collegiate career.
* Grambling State split the regular-season series with Southern.
Grambling State received the SWAC’s automatic berth to the 2018 NCAA Division I Basketball Championship. The Lady Tigers will find out who their opponent is during Monday night’s selection show, which is scheduled to air at 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN.
First and second round games (March 16-19) for the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will be held on 16 non-predetermined campus sites. At each campus site, four teams will compete in single-elimination first-round competition. The two winning teams will then compete against each other in single-elimination second-round competition at the same campus site. The winning team from each of the 16 second-round games will advance to the regional rounds of play.
Courtesy: GSU Athletics