We are going to give them a game worthy of television.”

Shaw head coach Jacques Curtis had said those words in a press conference prior to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship.

His players made him a prophet on March 23 as Shaw came from an 11-point halftime deficit to claim an 88-82 overtime victory over No. 2 ranked Ashland to claim Shaw’s first national championship in any sport.

“This is what Coach recruited us for,” said Shaw senior center Aslea Williams. “I wasn’t going to finish my senior year with a loss. Even when I didn’t play well, my teammates had my back.”

With 25 seconds left in regulation, Williams hit a layup that gave Shaw a 72-69 lead, but with six seconds left, Ashland hit yet another three to tie the game and send it into overtime.

“We were disappointed the shot went in,” said Curtis. “But on the positive side, we didn’t mind playing five more minutes. We felt we were fresher. It just gave us a chance to score some more points.”

Shaw’s Sequoya Griffin opened the extra period with a jumper and Williams had an old-fashioned three to give the Lady Bears a 77-72 lead.

With 2:11 left in overtime, Spencer hit a layup to give Shaw a seven-point lead. That would be their last field goal as Ashland started fouling Shaw in order to stop the clock. In those closing minutes, Shaw hit seven of eight free throws, and the Eagles could do nothing to make any real inroads on the lead.

With 17 seconds left, Kari Daugherty hit a trio of free throws for Ashland that set the final score at 88-82.

For all the high flying shooting, the game may have been won on the ground and on ball control. Shaw committed only eight turnovers, while forcing the Eagles into 21 miscues. Lane had six steals for the Lady Bears and Williams added another five.

Shaw finishes the season with a 29-6 mark, including a 15-game winning streak and winning 26 of their last 27. Ashland had their 33-game winning streak snapped and finish the season 33-2.

Griffin led Shaw with 24 points on 10 for 15 shooting. Spencer added 16 points and led Shaw with seven assists. Both Ransom and Williams had 14 points, but Williams coupled hers with 11 rebounds for a double-double. And Kyria Buford added 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Only Spencer (38) played more than 35 minutes for Shaw.

Four of Ashland’s five starters played more than 40 minutes, while the fifth played 39. Jena Stutzman was the leading scorer with 32 points. Daugherty added 24 and Alyssa Miller tossed in an additional 12. Daugherty led both teams with 15 rebounds, and had four assists to pace the Eagles.
 

Sherri Fillingham

Special to the AFRO