Friday, February 22, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- No. 2 seed Christopher Newport University (CNU) got 64 percent of its points from three players Sunday and captured its fifth USA South Athletic Conference women's basketball championship in seven years by routing No. 1 seed Ferrum College, 70-55, in the title game at the Crown Center Arena.
With the victory, CNU (26-2) claims the USA South's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, which begins this week.
Sixty-four teams are invited to the national tournament.
Ferrum (24-4), which entered the championship game ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division III South Region and in two national polls, will learn Monday afternoon if it will receive an at-large qualifying berth.
The Panthers were attempting to win the conference championship for the second year in a row.
Instead, they lost in the finals for the fifth time (1992, 2006, 2007 2010, 2013).
The last time the USA South sent two teams to the national tournament was 2011 That year, CNU advanced to the Final Four and Greensboro (N.C.) College made it to the Sweet 16.
Maryville (23-4), which lost to the Captains in Saturday's semifinals by 10 points, 61-51, also will be under consideration for an at-large berth.
Ferrum, CNU and Maryville shared the league's regular-season championship.
CNU's championship is its 11th in program history, and it will be the Captains' last one.
Next year, CNU's women's basketball team makes its debut in the Capital Athletic Conference, which features Division III heavyweights University of Mary Washington and Marymount University.
CNU's latest title reign comes in Bill Broderick's first year as head coach.
The Captains will take a 13-game winning streak into the national tournament, and the last 12 of those wins all are by double figures.
CNU has not lost since falling to Ferrum, 65-55, in January in its only regular-season match-up against the Panthers at William P. Swartz Gymnasium.
Ferrum had won three straight games in the series prior to Sunday.
Tia Perry paced the Captains with 16 points, while Camry Green netted 15 and Nicole Mitchell tallied 14.
That trio was a combined 16 of 32 (50 percent) from the field. As a team, CNU converted 45.1 percent of its shots (23 of 51).
Five other players contributed points to the Captains' victory.
The Captains led by 12, 33-21, at intermission and outscored the Panthers 37-34 after halftime.
What paced CNU to its 12-point halftime lead was its 4 of 7 shooting display from 3-point range. CNU missed both of its two, second-half 3-point tries.
Jacole Hairston, who entered the tournament ranked seventh in Division III in field-goal percentage, netted a game-best 21 points to lead the Panthers.
Hairston, a sophomore, was 8 of 11 from the field.
Tesla Akers, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of last year's tournament, scored 11 points. She was 4 of 12 from the field, 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
Hairston and Akers were the Panthers' only double-figure scorers.
Also scoring for Ferrum were Katy Kipps with seven points, Boreika Burwell (Franklin County) with five, Kylene Culler with four, Kelsey Frazier with three and Kayla Goins and Shea Smith (Franklin County) each with two.
Culler did grab a game-best 12 rebounds and Ferrum won the battle of the backboards 36-24.
The Panthers were limited to 37.9 percent shooting (22 of 58).
Perry was voted the tournament's MVP. Teammates Green and Kelly Halverson also were selected to the all-tournament team. Hairston and Culler made the all-tournament team as did Tayler Smith of Maryville.
Ferrum's record in the tournament is 26-23. That mark dates to 1989, the year Ferrum made its debut in the event.