Edinboro, Pa. — The eighth seeded Lady Bears claimed a NCAA tournament opening round win against top-seed Edinboro 72-51 in a game played on host Edinboro’s campus.
“The win feels good in this situation,” Shaw head coach Jacques Curtis said. “With the illness we’ve been having, we hadn’t practiced since the (CIAA) tournament. We had three starters out (of practice) this week.”
Edinboro certainly saw no signs of weakness from the Lady Bears. Shaw opened the game with a smothering zone defense and while the Fighting Scots hit the first and the last 3-pointers of the game, they missed 28 in between, allowing Shaw to stay in the zone and shut off the inside.
“We’re a zone team. We knew they shot a lot of 3s, and shot them well,” said Curtis. “That was our concern: that they would pull us out of the zone.”
The Fighting Scots had no real answer for two of Shaw’s “bigs”: Kyria Buford and Demaria Liles. Liles led the Bears with 17 points and nine rebounds while Buford had 16. Since Liles joined the team in the closing weeks of the season, the Bears are 9-1 and she has averaged a double-double. She was one rebound shy of the feat against Edinboro.
“She raises the level of confidence on the team,” said Curtis. “We have other good players, but she gives them confidence, especially with her rebounding presence.”
The game was close for about 3 minutes, with Edinboro taking a 7-6 lead on Renee’ Brown’s layup with 16:49 left in the first, but it was the last lead the Fighting Scots would hold. The Lady Bears went on a 15-4 run over the next 6 minutes, building a 21-11 lead.
Kyria Buford said after the game that she thought it might be their night after that early scoring spree. “I thought we might have them when we jumped out on them early, but we’ve had teams come back on us.”
The Lady Bears didn’t need to worry about that in today’s game. While they only stretched their lead to 13 once in the first half, they opened the second half on a 15-6 run that built their lead to 20 points when Kyria Buford took a step back from her defender and smoothly sank a 3 to make the score 52-32 and silenced the Edinboro crowd.
The Fighting Scots were not able to trim the lead under 20 for the remainder of the game. With 3:15 to go, Brittany Ransom hit a 3 that gave the Lady Bears a 69-40 lead. Edinboro closed the game with an 11-3 run with the Shaw second team in the game, including a 3-pointer by Kerry Connolly with only a second showing on the clock.
Interestingly, given their trouble with Shaw’s inside game, the Fighting Scots pulled in 27 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Lady Bears 49-44. Many of those offensive boards were long rebounds from off-target 3-pointers. The Fighting Scots were two for 30 (6.7 percent) from beyond the arc, and 20 for 76 (26.3 percent) from the floor.
In contrast, the Lady Bears attempted only nine 3s, hitting four for a 44.4 percent mark. Overall, they were 24 of 55 (43.6 percent).
In addition to Liles’ 17 and Buford’s 16, Allyssa Lane had 13 points for Shaw. Liles was the leading rebounder with nine and Brittney Spencer had five assists to lead the Lady Bears.
Samantha Blazetic led Edinboro with 11 points, and Brown had 10. Micki Cerchiaro pulled in 11 rebounds to lead the Fighting Scots.