March 13, 2009

Courtesy of Ouachita Baptist Athletics

CLEVELAND, Miss. – The Ouachita Baptist University women’s basketball team rode the momentum of a late first-half run to win its first-ever NCAA Division II South Region game as the Lady Tigers, seeded No. 7 in the tournament, stunned No. 2 seed and No. 18-ranked Fort Valley State, 69-55, during the opening round Friday afternoon at Walter Sillers Coliseum.

Ouachita will meet the winner of Tampa/Clark Atlanta 6:00 p.m., Saturday, March 14 in the regional semifinals.

Adams paced Ouachita (22-8) with a game-high 26 points, while Haley Griffin, who scored her 1,000th career point late in the second half, added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the double-double. Ouachita was 23-of-63 (37 percent) from the floor and 19-of-25 (79 percent) from the free-throw line.

Fort Valley State (26-5) took advantage of Ouachita’s inability to knock down a shot in the first four minutes to grab an 8-1 lead. After a pair of free throws by Gabby Coleman, A’Laeshia Adams gave the Lady Tigers their first field goal of the game, coming with 14:29 remaining in the first half, cutting the Lady Wildcats advantage to 8-5.

Takesha Riggs gave Fort Valley State a 12-7 lead, but Ouachita continued to keep the game close as Beulah Osueke scored on a layup to cut the Lady Wildcats margin to 12-9 with 9:42 left in the opening half.

A putback by Kim Burgess pug the Lady Tigers down 18-9 as Ouachita struggled to get anything to drop in the first half, shooting 13 percent (3-of-22) from the floor during the first 15 minutes.

Despite the slow start, the final five minutes of the half belonged to the Lady Tigers.

Ouachita remained poised to keep things close as Maranda Parker drained a short jumper and Adams made a pair at the charity stripe to cut the Fort Valley State lead to 18-13 with 5:21 remaining.

The Lady Tigers took their first lead of the day with 1:40 remaining in the first half. After an Adams 3-pointer – the first for Ouachita in the contest – She was fouled after a turnover by Fort Valley State and cashed in at the free-throw line with two shots to give Ouachita a 23-22 advantage.

Ouachita, which used a 19-4 run, took a 28-22 lead into the break, while Fort Valley State went the final 2:16 of the first half without a bucket from the field. The Lady Tigers were just 8-of-32 from the field in the first half for 25 percent, but benefited at the charity stripe by going 10-of-14 (71 percent). Meanwhile, Fort Valley State was 9-of-41 (22 percent) from the floor.

The Lady Tigers started the second half hot and took a 37-28 advantage after a Kim Beverly steal as Adams scored on a layup with 16:23 remaining.

A small run by Fort Valley State cut the Ouachita lead to 39-36, but a Coleman 3-pointer with 12:58 left gave the lady Tigers a 42-36 advantage.

The Lady Wildcats cut the Ouachita advantage to three, but Adams drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key off an assist by Parker and after a Fort Valley State bucket, Haley Griffin scored on a putback to give the Lady Tigers a 49-43 lead with 8:23 remaining.

Fort Valley State had trouble stopping Adams, as she turned on the jets for the next six Ouachita points with back-to-back three-point plays to push the Lady Tigers lead to 55-45 with 6:47 left.

The Lady Wildcats tried to keep the game close and were in foul trouble with less than five minutes to play. A Parker miss turned into a historic Ouachita women’s basketball moment as Haley Griffin grabbed the rebound and put it in the basket for her 1,001 career point to give Ouachita a 61-50 advantage.

Fort Valley State never could recover in the first Ouachita women’s basketball NCAA Division II South Region victory.

Riggs, who was 7-of-15 from the floor, finished with 17 points, despite fouling out with five and half minutes left in the contest. Kendra Evans chipped in with 10 points as the Lady Wildcats were 22-of-71 (31 percent) from the field.

NOTES: First-ever NCAA Division II South Region game for Ouachita Baptist…First-ever meeting between Ouachita and Fort Valley State…A layup by Haley Griffin with 4:14 remaining gave her career No. 1,001 points for her four-year collegiate career…Ouachita advances to first-ever NCAA Division II South Region Semifinal final against the winner of Clark Atlanta/Tampa at 6:00 p.m., Saturday, March 14.