FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Top-seeded Nova Southeastern scored the last 14 points to end its opening-round game against Benedict, fending off the No. 8 Lady Tigers' upset bid and winning Friday night's South Regional quarterfinal matchup at the NSU Arena 75-61.
The Sharks (26-4) led from 1:48 to go in the first half until 7:25 remained in the game, when two free throws by Santera Grooms of Benedict (20-10) put her team back ahead 55-54. After a driving layup by Jessica Russi, back-to-back baskets by the Lady Tigers gave them a three-point edge with just 6:04 left 59-56.
On the Sharks' next possession, Taylor Buie missed a contested layup, but Russi retrieved the offensive board, and after Buie curled all the way back out to the right wing, Russi found her for a wide-open 3 to tie the game at 59-59. Two free throws by Danielle Robinson put the Sharks up two, and though Grooms' jumper tied it at 61-61 with 4:29 left, that would be the last points Benedict would score.
A Jasmine Wilkins layup at 3:35 started the final 14-0 stretch, as Benedict missed their last four shots while committing four turnovers. Buie scored nine of those 14 points, and beyond the final stretch, as a team, the Sharks made nine out of their last 10 free throws to seal the win.
Buie had game-high honors with 23 points overall, 18 of those coming in the second half. Richelle Carach was next with 15 points. Robinson and Russi each had nine, while Russi added eight assists. Wilkins chipped in with eight points, while Amanda Burakoski had six points and a game-best 11 rebounds.
Benedict was led in scoring by Kadeeja Vaughn off the bench, going 7 of 12 from the field for 14 points, while also pacing the team with seven rebounds. The Lady Tigers had three players with nine points each: Jasmine Stubbs, Britenique Harrison and Ashley Thompson.