The timing may have been slightly different – last year the two met in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament – but the ending was the same: Shaw downing nationally ranked Edinboro on their way to an NCAA Atlantic Region title.

This year, the two met in the regional finals, but the Lady Bears still sent the home fans home unhappy as they defeated third-ranked and top seed Edinboro 70-53 at McComb Field House on the Edinboro campus.

With the win, Shaw (26-6 overall record) advances to the Elite Eight for the second straight year. Last year, the team advanced to the Final Four for the first time in program history.

“It was a heck of a game,” said Shaw head coach Jacques Curtis. “We know they liked to get up and down. The key was not turning the ball over. I’m just glad to be advancing.”
Senior guard Allyssa Lane, who led all scorers with 17 points, said this year’s win was different. “Last year it was important to win. But as a senior, this year it means everything.”

With Crystal Harris – one of Shaw’s key “bigs” – home for the funeral of her grandmother, the Bears were forced to play Kyria Buford and Aslea Williams for longer minutes, and to go smaller, with point guards Lane and Brittney Spencer sharing more time on the floor together.

All four wound up scoring in double digits with Buford being named to the All-Tournament team and Williams being named MVP.

“This group is a team,” said Curtis. “You don’t know on any given night who will step up. Without Crystal, our rotation got screwed up. Normally no one plays over 25 minutes, but tonight Aslea played 34. And Allyssa had 17 points. We knew our guards had to step up tonight.”

Kiara Brown was the only Edinboro player in double digits with 14 points; she was also named to the all-tournament team. Raven Metz had 11 rebounds and three assists to lead the Lady Fighting Scots in both categories. Edinboro ends its season with a 30-2 record.

Shaw now advances to play Pittsburg State of Kansas (27-5 overall record) at 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 20 at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Tex.

Sherri Fillingham

Special to the AFRO