March 14, 2009

Courtesy Ouachita Baptist Athletics


CLEVELAND, Miss. – Domino Miller sank two shots at the free-throw line with 5.5 seconds left and Gianna Messina’s shot at the buzzer hit off the front iron as the Ouachita Baptist University women’s basketball team survived a tremendous comeback from No. 25 Tampa to defeat the Spartans, 77-74, during the NCAA Division II South Region Semifinals Saturday at the Walter Sillers Coliseum.


“I was thinking I am a good free throw shooter,” Miller said about being at the charity stripe with 5.5 seconds left. “They (Tampa) came out hitting in the second half. We played good defense, but they seemed to find shooting touch there in the second half.”


Ouachita (23-8) led by as many as 24 points early in the second half, but Tampa (26-6) rallied and made the final minutes interesting, but the Lady Tigers pull off the victory to advance to Monday’s South Region Final against the winner of Delta State/Arkansas-Monticello.


Gabby Coleman paced the Lady Tigers with 15 points, while Angela Colliver and Miller each had 14. A’Laeshia Adams finished with 13 as Ouachita was 25-of-61 (41 percent) shooting from the field and 18-of-23 (78 percent) from the charity stripe.


Ouachita used solid defense and hard rebounding on both ends of the court to jump out to a 9-0 advantage after Miller drained a 3-pointer with 16:36 remaining in the opening half.


The lead grew to 12-2 after a three by Colliver with 15:42 left, but Tampa trimmed the deficit to 12-4 after a bucket by Kym Taylor right before the first media timeout.


A 3-pointer by Melissa Richardson increased the Ouachita lead to 17-8 with 12:42 left, forcing Tampa head coach Tom Jessee to call his second timeout of the half.


After the second media timeout, Miller drained her second 3-pointer to give Ouachita its first double-digit lead, 20-8 with 11:40 remaining. The Lady Tigers continued to play solid defense, resulting in more baskets, taking a 24-8 advantage after a short jumper by Haley Griffin with 9:18 left in the first half.


The Spartans, who went more than seven minutes without a field goal from the floor as Ouachita went on a 14-3 run, cut the Lady Tigers lead to 30-14 with a bucket by Tiara Cook, but a Coleman 3-pointer extended the Ouachita advantage to 33-14 with a little more than five minutes to play. A steal on the inbounds play by Coleman, resulted in another layup on a putback by Adams to give the Lady Tigers a 35-14 lead with 4:57 left.


Tampa looked to close the gap lap in the first half, but a 3-pointer by Kim Beverly pushed the Lady Tigers advantage to 43-22. However, a trey by Angela Guiu cut the Ouachita advantage to 43-25 with less than a minute to play.


Ouachita, which shot an amazing 15-of-32 from the field in the first half for 47 percent, took a 45-27 lead into the break. Meanwhile, Tampa was 8-of-23 for 35 percent.


The Lady Tigers pushed the margin to 56-35 after an Adams layup with 14:54 remaining in the contest.


Tampa tried to climb back into the game as Gianna Messina drained three and Cook scored on a short jumper to cut the Ouachita advantage to 59-42, but a Haley Griffin jumper extended the lead to 61-42 with 10:25 left.


A 3-pointer by Catriana Messina and a free throw by Cook cut the deficit to 61-46 with 7:49 remaining. Hailee Sullivan sank a 3-pointer after a Lady Tiger turnover to trim the margin to 61-51 with 7:23 left.


A 3-pointer by Gianna Messina helped Tampa climb all the way back from a double-digit deficit by cutting the Ouachita advantage to 61-54 with 6:35 remaining.


After a bucket by Gianna Messina, Adams sank a key 3-pointer from the left wing to push the momentum back in Ouachita’s direction at 64-56 with a little more than five minutes left.


A three by Sullivan trimmed the margin to 66-62 with 3:18 left, but a layup by Griffin kept the Lady Tigers in front, 68-62 with a little more than three minutes to play. However, a three by Caitlyn Mitryk cut the deficit to 68-65 with 2:59 left.


After a Griffin free throw, Sullivan cut the Lady Tigers lead to just one, 69-68 with a 3-pointer with 2:13 left.


Beverly was fouled on the next trip up the court for Ouachita, sinking a pair with 1:39 left to give the Lady Tigers a 71-68 advantage. But Sullivan’s layup kept the game very close, 71-70. However, Coleman’s jumper in the paint pushed Ouachita to a 73-70 lead.


But Cook’s layup trimmed it again to just one, 73-72 with less than a minute to play.


Adams drew a blocking call on Sullivan with 18 seconds and during the one-and-one she sank them both for the 75-72 lead.


After a timeout, Cook scored with 5.5 left on a short jumper and the Spartans were forced to foul Miller.


The freshman guard from Mountain Home, Ark., sank a pair to give Ouachita a 77-74 lead. Gianna Messina’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the front iron, giving the Lady Tigers the victory.


Cook led Tampa with 24 points, while Sullivan recorded 14 points and Gianna Messina finished with 11 as the Spartans were 23-of-51 (45 percent) from the field and 19-of-25 (76 percent) from the foul line.


NOTES: Second-ever meeting between Tampa and Ouachita…In previous meeting in 2003-2004 season, Tampa beat Ouachita, 62-53…Ouachita advances to first-ever NCAA Division II South Region Final and will meet the winner of Delta State/Arkansas-Monticello on Monday.