Big South Roundup, Day 4: Lady Flames cure upset bug

On a day when the lower seeds prevailed in the first three quarterfinal games at the 2013 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Women’s Basketball Tournament, No. 1 seed and defending champion Liberty charged to a 34-15 lead in the first 10 minutes and advanced to the semifinals for the 17th straight year with a 78-61 victory over No. 9 Gardner-Webb.

The Flames hit their first three three-point attempts and tied a tournament record with eight in a single half, all coming in the first 12 minutes of the contest, to open a 39-28 halftime advantage. Liberty hit 11 of 16 from deep for the game and including 8 of 12 in the first 20 minutes. Devon Brown led four Liberty players in double figures with 23 points for the game and added a career best six steals on the defensive end.

Gardner-Webb kept the game within reach in the first half clawing its way back to cut the Liberty lead to 11 at the break after Jessica Heilig knocked down a pair of free throws just before the end of the half. Heilig led the Runnin’ Bulldogs with 12 first half points and finished with a team-high 16 for the game. GWU cut the lead to as little as five in the second half in the first five minutes of play.

Liberty answered, however, with an 8-0 run and two more three-pointers from Reagan Miller to push the lead back to double digits, and the Bulldogs were never able to get any closer than nine points after that.  Miller finished with 17 points, including 4 of 5 from behind the three-point arc. Brittany Campbell added 11 points, and Tolu Omotola notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jasmine Gardner also grabbed a game-high 11 caroms.

Catrina Green added 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Bulldogs. Olivia Parker also reached double figures with 11 points.

* No. 5 seed Campbell 74, No. 4 High Point 73:  came back from a 24-point, second-half deficit to upset No. 4 seed High Point  in an overtime thriller on Friday evening at the HTC Center. Tonisha Baker led the comeback effort for the Fightin’ Camels and tied a career-high with 31 points. She added 10 rebounds for a double-double in the victory.

With the win, Campbell advances to the semifinals of the 2013 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Women’s Basketball Championship and will take on the winner of the No. 1 Liberty University vs. No. 9 Gardner-Webb University quarterfinal at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Baker came away with a steal and layup to kick off overtime and her squad followed with two more baskets to pull ahead, 74-68, with 2:37 to go in the extra period. High Point’s Taylor Tremblay and Jazmin Cromartie retaliated with back-to-back layups to make it 74-72 with just over a minute remaining. Cheyenne Parker scored the last point of the game, going 1-for-2 at the line and pulling her squad within one. The Panthers had possession for the last shot of the night, but could find the rim, as the clock expired and Campbell sealed the 74-73 victory.

It was a tale of two halves that led to the overtime decision. Campbell, who trailed by as much as 46-22 at 18:59 in the second half, would not go quietly, as Baker hit a pull-up jumper to ignite a 14-1 run and cut the deficit to just 10 at 52-42 with 13:27 still to play. Lindsay Puckett ended the drought for the Panthers with a three-pointer and Stacia Robinson followed with a field goal, to increase the margin to 16, but the Fightin’ Camels fought back once again to pull within three at 60-57, after outscoring High Point 15-2.

CU stayed within reach, as Jessica Moore tallied a fast-break layup, Kiera Gaines hit a turnaround jumper and Baker converted a free throw to make it just a one-point differential at 65-64 with 2:30 remaining. Baker gave her squad the lead with just 1:46 on the clock to put Campbell ahead at 66-65. Parker knotted the score at 66-66, but Baker scored once again to make it 68-66. On HPU’s next possession, Parker saved ball from going out of bounds and dished a pass under hoop to Robertson to tie the score at 68-68. Neither squad could score before the buzzer, sending the teams into overtime.

* No. 7 seed Longwood 79, No. 2 seed Winthrop 67:  The Lady Eagles were held scoreless for more than 8 minutes late in Friday afternoon’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Women’s Basketball Championship quarterfinal tilt at The HTC Center. The Lancers reeled off a decisive 19-0 run during that span, leading to a nother upset victory.

Winthrop owned a 62-58 lead with 8:16 remaining, after Dequesha McClanahan swished a jumper. However, those were the Eagles’ final points until the 11-second mark as they went 0-13 from the field, 0-4 from the free throw line and committed four turnovers during the fateful span.

Meanwhile, the Lancers’ surge was highlighted by 10 made free throws and their school record-equaling 12th three-pointer of the day.

Chelsea Coward hit five of Longwood’s triples as part of a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds), while Crystal Smith added a team-high 18 points to pace four Lancers in double figures. They helped Longwood (13-18) advance to its first Big South semifinal contest, where the Lancers will face either No. 3 seed Presbyterian College or No. 6 seed Radford, Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Winthrop falls to 20-12 despite a game-high 23 points and seven assists from Big South Player of the Year McClanahan and a career high-tying 20 points from Aliyah Kilpatrick.

* Radford 41, Presbyterian 38:  Diani Mason scored 12 points and Radford upset third-seeded Presbyterian College 41-38 Friday in the quarterfinal round of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference women’s basketball championship at The HTC Center.

The sixth-seeded Highlanders (16-13) did not make a field goal and only scored 4 points over the final 9:58 of the game, but held off a late rally by the Blue Hose (19-11).

Victoria Hamilton’s jumper from the left elbow capped a 13-3 run and gave Radford its largest lead (37-26) with 9:59 to play.  However, PC rallied behind Shonda Burnside.  The senior forward scored the last 6 points in a 12-2 Blue Hose run and pulled the visitors within one (39-38) on a driving left-hander with 21.4 seconds to play.

Breshara Gordon missed the front end of a one-and-one with 14.6 ticks left, giving PC a chance to grab the lead.  However, Devin Fothergill lost the ball out of bounds with 3 seconds to go.

Gordon was fouled with no time expiring off the clock, and made both ends of a one-and-one to provide the final margin.  Karlee Taylor was unable to get off a desperation three point attempt from just over half court before time expired.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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