BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP)Genovea Johnson scored 18 points, Amani McWain changed the momentum with two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and Southern earned its sixth NCAA Tournament berth with a 62-53 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff in the Southwestern Athletic Conference on Saturday.
McWain hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:49 to play to give the Jaguars a 46-45 lead, and after Coriah Beck put the Lady Lions back on top McWain hit from the right corner and Southern pulled away.
McWain scored 15 points for the fourth-seeded Jaguars (18-14), who last made the tournament in 2019. Taylor Williams added 10 points.
Demetria Shepherd scored 13 points to lead the seventh-seeded Lady Lions (14-17), who had never reached the title game before knocking off the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. Maori Davenport had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Beck and Maya Peat both added 10.
Pine Bluff was done in by free-throw shooting. The Lady Lions were 10 of 26 from the line, 3 of 9 in both the third quarter, when they could have built a lead, and the fourth quarter when they could have kept the pressure on.
It’s fitting that 3-pointers changed the game as Southern hit 10 in its semifinal win over top-seeded Jackson State, including Aleighyah Fontenot’s runner from the top of the key as time expired – the SportsCenter No. 1 Top 10 play – for a 65-64 win.
After McWain’s 3, Tyneisha Metcalf scored for a 51-47 lead. Tia Morgan responded with a 3 for Pine Bluff but Johnson scored inside and after Metcalf scored it was 56-50 with 2:37 to play. The final score was the largest lead of the game.
The Lady Lions trailed from the opening basket until Beck’s three-point play with 34 seconds left in the half gave them a 26-24 lead at the break.
Pine Bluff got the lead to six in the third quarter and took a 41-38 lead into the fourth quarter. —
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top254