Lander Women's Basketball Falls to Rollins, 66-62 in Elite Eight
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Lander University women's basketball team's remarkable NCAA Division II run came to an end Tuesday night when the Lady Bearcats lost to Rollins College 66-62 in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals at Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary's University.
The Tars (28-5) scored the final 10 points of the game, advancing to play Shaw University in the semifinals Wednesday night at 9:30. Rollins ended the game with an 18-6 run.
No. 24 ranked Lander finished the season 24-8 after making the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The Lady Bearcats went scoreless over the game's final five minutes.
Lander's four-year senior class of Brittni Johnson, Ciara Lyons, Jasmine Judge, Mukia Myrick, Kaylyn Small and Keondra Barnes finished their careers with a 100-27 record. They went to the NCAA Tournament all four years, reaching the Sweet 16 as sophomores and juniors, and the Elite Eight as seniors.
Lander transfers Kami Phillips and Rachelle Rasley, also seniors, saw their collegiate careers come to an end as well.
Second-ranked Ashland University (32-1) faces No. 5 Bentley University (30-3) in a matchup of No. 1 seeds in Wednesday's other semifinal game at 7.
Wednesday's winners will face off for the national championship at 8 p.m. Friday at Greehey Arena. The semifinals and championship game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports Network (Channel 613 on DirecTV, Channel 158 on Dish Network).
Bentley rallied from 19 points down with 13 minutes left to beat No. 1 ranked Wayne State 72-67 in Tuesday's first quarterfinal, Ashland pulled away from Alaska-Anchorage 71-51, Shaw outlasted No. 14 Pittsburg State 61-58, and in the final quarterfinal of the day the Lady Bearcats saw a late eight-point lead vanish at the hands of Rollins.
Judge led Lander with 15 points, making four 3-pointers in the second half. She finished her career with over 403 made 3s. Small and Lyons scored 11 points apiece for the Lady Bearcats while Myrick and Judge shared team-high honors with seven rebounds apiece.
Paris Moore led a balanced Rollins attack with 13 points while Sarah Blackburn added 10 points for the 15th-ranked Tars of Winter Park, Fla.
Lander made 22 of 57 shots from the floor (39 percent), 11 of 15 free throws (70 percent) and seven of 21 from 3-point range (33 percent).
Rollins made 26 of 64 shots (41 percent), nine of 12 free throws (75 percent) and five of 24 from behind the arc (21 percent) while out-rebounding the Lady Bearcats 42-33.
Lander took its first lead of the second half with 9:01 left on Judge's 3 from the left baseline, and she hit another trey off a pass from Johnson on her next trip down the floor as the Lady Bearcats led 51-47.
Precious Elkins scored on Lander's next possession – a rare three consecutive scores for either team – to up the lead to 53-48 with 8:15 to go. Judge made her third straight 3 to give the Lady Bearcats their biggest lead of the game at eight, 56-48, at the 7:29 mark.
Myrick's two free throws gave Lander a 60-53 lead with 5:50 left and a Lyons basket made it 62-56 with five minutes to go. But the Lady Bearcats would not score again.
Jasmine Bradley made a layup to close Rollins within 62-58 with four minutes to go, and Sarah Taylor's layup cut it to 62-60 with 2:30 left.
Taylor took a 3-point attempt that would have given the Tars the lead. It missed, however Rollins got the offensive rebound and a new shot clock with 1:43 to go. Johnson, going for the steal, fouled Tera McDaniel and she made two free throws for a 62-all tie with 1:36 left.
Johnson launched a 3-point attempt from the right corner and Small, going for the offensive rebound, was called for her fifth foul sending her to the bench with 1:16 to go. Moore made both free throws for a 64-62 Tars lead.
Myrick drove the baseline for a game-tying attempt and got her own rebound but lost the ball back to Rollins with 40 seconds left. McDaniel missed a jumper as the shot clock was winding down, but Moore grabbed a huge offensive rebound, was fouled, and made two free throws for a 66-62 lead with 18 seconds left.
Judge took a long 3-point shot attempt, but it was an air ball and Rollins grabbed the defensive rebound to ice it.
The game started out in a frantic, sloppy pace with only eight points and a combined seven turnovers in the opening five-plus minutes, with the game tied at 4 at the first media timeout.
It was just 8-all with a little over 11 minutes to go as the two teams were a combined 7-for-27 from the floor. Rollins became the first team to reach double digits in points on McDaniel's bank shot in the lane, making it 10-9 at the 10:25 mark.
Small converted a three-point play to put Lander on top, 12-10, with 9:54 left. But Blackburn's steal and layup pushed the Tars back ahead 16-15 at the 7:15 mark.
The Lady Bearcats finally put together a small run, scoring seven unanswered points on two Small free throws, a driving basket by Johnson, and Judge's open 3-pointer from the left corner. It was Lander's first made 3 in six attempts as the team made quick passes around the perimeter before finding Judge open for a 22-16 advantage with 5:35 left.
But Taylor and Kristina Mingos ended Rollins' 0-for-9 start from behind the arc, making back-to-back 3s to tie it at 22 at the four-minute mark.
The Lady Bearcats regained the lead when Small, met by a double team, found Lyons open inside for a layup to make it 24-22 with 3:22 to go. But Blackburn's base-line jumper with nine seconds left gave Rollins a 28-26 halftime lead.
McDaniel and Ashley Jones scored in the opening minute of the second half, giving the Tars their biggest lead of the game at 32-26. After Lyons scored for Lander, Jones hit a 3 from the right side to extend the Rollins lead to seven, 35-28, inside the 17-minute mark.
But the Lady Bearcats responded. Lyons hit two free throws, Johnson swished an open 3 from the left corner, and after Rollins matched its per game average of 14 turnovers with 16 minutes still left, Lyons found Small open for a layup to tie it at 35 with 15:45 to go.
After Taylor hit a pair of jumpers to give the Tars a four-point lead, Judge nailed an open 3-pointer with the help of a Small screen to pull Lander within 39-38 with 14:13 left.
The Lady Bearcats twice had possessions with a chance to take the lead but turned it over each time. Then Moore made one of two free throws to give Rollins a 40-38 lead with 12:19 to go.
Jones made a 3 to increase the Tars lead to 45-40. But Myrick answered with a trey from the right wing to pull Lander back within two with 10:31 left. Myrick took another 3-point attempt for the lead, but it bounced off the front of the rim.
Moore's basket pushed the Rollins lead back to four. But the Lady Bearcats continued to fight back as Lyons drove inside to cut the Lady Bearcats deficit back to two, and they would finally take the lead on their next possession.