March 13, 2009

 Courtesy of Tampa Athletics

CLEVELAND, Miss. – Behind the strength of four double-figure scorers, The University of Tampa Spartans women’s basketball team secured the second NCAA tournament victory in program history, eliminating Clark Atlanta University with a 70-63 decision Friday afternoon at Sillers Coliseum.

Both teams erased nine-point deficits in the game that featured four lead changes as Tampa (26-5) won for the 13th consecutive time. Tampa last won in the NCAA tournament in 2003.

The Spartans trailed by a 6-5 margin at the 14:46 mark of the first half, but Kym Taylor hit two layups and Angela Guiu added a three-point basket to put Tampa up by six just a minute and a half later.

UT stayed in front for the next ten minutes, enjoying as much as a nine-point lead with just under five minutes remaining in the opening period. However, the Spartans went on a field goal drought in the half’s final three minutes, allowing the Lady Panthers (26-5) to end the stanza on a 16-4 run to go into the break with a 33-30 advantage.

Clark Atlanta pushed its lead out to nine at the 14:04 mark of the second half, but the Spartans responded with an 18-5 run that was aided by another Guiu trey and two three-pointers from Hailee Sullivan.

Sullivan led all scorers in the contest with 21 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc.

The Lady Panthers would never pull within any closer than two the rest of the way.

Tiara Cook added 12 points and pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, narrowly missing a third straight double-double. Taylor finished with 11 while Guiu was good for 10 to round out Tampa’s double-figure scorers.

Tampa will now take on the seventh-seeded Ouachita Baptist Lady Tigers in the South Regional semifinal. OBU upset second-seeded Fort Valley State by a 69-55 score. Game time is set for 7 p.m. eastern time.