Macon, Ga. - One of the most remarkable turnaround stories in NCAA Division I women's basketball this season added a new chapter Saturday afternoon as second-seeded Stetson (20-12) defeated fifth-seeded Jacksonville (15-18) 69-50 in the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championship Game to win its third A-Sun championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history. The Hatters, who won just six games in 2009-10, have clinched their first 20-win season since 2000-01.
Sophomore guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.), who made national news with her 55-foot halfcourt heave to win the semifinal game against Belmont, had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists today vs. JU to take home A-Sun Tournament MVP honors. Senior guard Tierra Brown (Orlando, Fla.) and freshman forward Sasha Sims (Fayetteville, Ga.) earned All-Tournament Team honors as well. Sims set career highs in two categories with 24 points and 12 rebounds, sinking her first six three-point attempts of the ballgame.
The Hatters made nine of 16 three-point attempts as a team and also shot excellently from the free throw line (14-17, 82.4%), taking a 16-point halftime lead and cruising home to the title without being seriously threatened by the Dolphins.
Senior forward Jessica Conner (Cocoa, Fla.) scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds while senior center Natasha Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio) finished with 12 points. Brown tied a Stetson program record with her 118th career appearance today.
Sims was on fire throughout the first half, hitting threes from the corners, wings and the top of the key as Stetson went on a 20-6 run in the last 10 minutes of the first half to put the game out of reach.
Ashanti Williams scored 12 points off the bench to lead Jacksonville with Gigi Thomas (10 points) and Taneskei Richardson (eight points, 11 rebounds, three blocks) also putting up strong efforts in defeat for JU. Richardson and Jessica George were Jacksonville's All-Tournament Team honorees; Belmont center Haley Nelson completed the list of award-winners.
The Hatters will await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show that airs Monday, March 14 on the ESPN family of networks. Further information on time, channel and Stetson's watch party gathering will be forthcoming in the next week.
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