CHATTANOOGA, TN. - A pair of clutch baskets by Tiffany Brown and a
three-point play by Dana Benemon in overtime proved to be the difference
as fifth-seeded Georgia Southern outlasted eighth-seeded East Tennessee
State, 73-71, in the semifinal round of the 2005 Kyocera Southern
Conference Women's Basketball Championships at McKenzie Arena.
The win propels Georgia Southern (16-13) to the championship round of the
tournament for the second time in the past three seasons, while ETSU
(13-17) fell short in its bid to become the first-ever eight seed to reach
to title game.
In a tight battle that saw 14 ties and 18 lead changes, Georgia Southern
gained an early 20-12 advantage on a Fallon Lee three-pointer at the 7:19
mark of the opening stanza. The Eagles headed to the break with a 32-25
The Lady Bucs stormed out of the locker room, however, with a 10-2 run of
their own to regain the lead at 35-34. From that point forward, the game
see-sawed back and forth with neither team leading by more than three
points over the final 16 minutes of regulation.
Brown began her heroics with a driving lay-up to knot the score at 61 with
only 32 seconds remaining in the second period. Her shot at the buzzer
fell short, however, sending the contest into overtime.
Trailing by four with two minutes remaining in overtime, Brown drained a
three-pointer from the right corner to bring GSU within one, and seconds
later, ETSU's Tiffani Mayes, the SoCon's player of the year, picked up her
fifth foul on the offensive end. Benemon scored in the lane and converted
a free throw with 42 seconds remaining to put the Eagles back ahead by
two, and the Lady Bucs would never recover.
Lee DuBose also drained a number of timely three-pointers for GSU, going
three-for-five from behind the arc and contributing 17 points. Benemon
added 15 points and a team-high 12 rebounds for the Eagles.
ETSU's Gibson led all scorers with a career-high 27 points to go along
with a career-best 18 rebounds. She was joined in double-figures by Banjo
and Mayes, who tallied 14 and 13 points respectively.
Georgia Southern will face the winner of Friday's second semifinal
match-up between second-seeded Davidson and sixth-seeded Western Carolina.
The championship game will be at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 5 and will
be live on C-SET.
Georgia Southern Head Coach Rusty Cram:
"I'm proud of our girls for fighting back and the maturity they're
starting to show…We'd love to have had a big lead but we are generally
coming from behind all year and that's not a feeling you want to get used
to as a coach. You can see the maturity and composure in the young ladies
because of it."
ETSU Head Coach Karen Kemp:
"I am extremely proud of these young ladies. They came to the tournament
determined and played their heart out. Of course, we're disappointed with
the outcome, but I'm so proud of the heart they showed."