Three Lady Bears scored double-doubles to lead Shaw past No. 15 Rollins, 87-71, in a game played March 21 at Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas.
With the win, the Lady Bears advanced to play No. 2 Ashland for the Division II NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship March 23.
Sophomore center Crystal Harris led the Lady Bears with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while senior forward Kyria Buford had 22 points and 10 rebounds and junior center Aslea Williams scored 12 and pulled in 14 boards.
Rollins had no answer for Shaw’s “big” players, 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. Meanwhile, 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 built a 20-point lead before halftime, but the Tars fought back in the second half, trimming the Shaw lead to as little as 12 points early in the half by 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.”
With 12:56 left in the game, senior guard 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 senior guards Brittney Spencer and Allyssa Lane, who had three apiece.
For Rollins, sophomore guard/forward Ashley Jones and Moore led the way with 13 points apiece. Three players had five rebounds and another three had four apiece. Junior guard Tera McDaniel had three assists to pace the Tars.
Shaw advanced to face Ashland, the second-ranked team in the nation, in the title game March 23 at 8:00 p.m. The Eagles are led by junior guard/forward Kari Daugherty. who averages 21.2 points and 14 rebounds per game.
“We’re going to pound the ball inside,” Curtis said, “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 in the game at a time. We haven’t had a chance to play our jumbo offense yet, but this might be the game.”