No. 1 Delta State suffers first defeat
Rollins’ 19 points, 14 boards, 5 blocks lead Harding’s upset
SEARCY, Ark. – Junior guard Sierra Rollins scored 19 points to lead the Harding women's basketball to an upset of No. 1 Delta State 69-66 in Gulf South Conference action at the Rhodes Field House.
It was Harding's third all-time win against the Lady Statesmen and the first since 2005 when Harding won 52-37 in Cleveland, Miss. It was also the first win over a ranked team since 2007 when the Lady Bisons defeated No. 12 Henderson State 80-62. Harding had never beaten a No. 1-ranked team since joining the NCAA in 1996.
Leading by a basket with 12 seconds remaining the game, junior forward Cherilyn McMenamy received the in-bounds pass and quickly handed it off to Rollins. She dribbled around and through Delta State defenders and was fouled with five seconds remaining. She connected on 1 of 2 free throws which allowed the Lady Statesmen one last chance. The Lady Bisons played solid defense and forced a last second shot, which came up short to give Harding the victory.
Rollins shot 50 percent from the field (6 of 12), 70 percent from the free throw line (7 of 10), grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds (fifth double-double of the season), had four assists and tied a career high with five blocks.
Freshman forward Kristen Celsor scored 12 points for Harding, hitting 5 of 8 from the field. Senior guard Bailey St. Clair was perfect from the free throw line, hitting 7 of 7, and scored 11 points.
Harding opened the game on a 12-0 run and took a 16-4 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. The Lady Bisons forced Delta State to miss its first 14 shots. The Lady Bisons kept building their lead to as many as 25 points with 1:12 remaining in the half and took a 47-23 lead into halftime. Delta State's 23 points were the fewest by an opponent all season. Harding hit 15 of 26 from the field (57 percent) and 4 of 7 from behind the 3-point line (57 percent), while holding Delta State to eight baskets (8 of 34, 23.5 percent).
In the second half the tables turned.
Delta State immediately began to tear into the deficit, starting on an 8-2 run in the first five minutes. Delta State kept clawing its way back into the game and eventually tied it at 56-56 with 6:50 left. DSU then jumped out to a six-point lead but couldn't hold on. The Lady Bisons hit back-to-back 3-pointers and retook the lead with 1:47 left to go on two made free throws by St. Clair.
Delta State (14-1, 2-1 GSC West) was led by senior guard Sheena Johnson's 19 points. Junior center Veronica Walker grabbed a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Moe Bell hit 3 of 4 from behind the 3-point line and scored 13 points for the Lady Statesmen.
Harding outrebounded Delta State 37-33.