Macon, Ga. - An excellent defensive effort allowed the second-seeded Stetson women's basketball team (22-9) to defeat seventh-seeded USC Upstate 72-59 in the quarterfinals of the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championships at Mercer's University Center Wednesday evening. With the victory, the defending A-Sun champions tie the program record for victories originally set in 2000-01.
The Hatters held the Spartans (9-21) to 33.3 percent shooting, 18.5 percent three-point shooting and out-rebounded them 52-40 on the night. Stetson grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, eight by freshman forward Cherisse Burris (Blue Springs, Mo.), and held USC Upstate without a field goal for an 11 minute, 20 second stretch across halftime.
The Spartans held several small early leads and went up by five on a Tee'Ara Copney three-pointer with 7:16 to go in the first half, at which time the Stetson defense went into complete lockdown mode. USC Upstate would score just one point the remainder of the half and not make another field goal until the 15:56 mark of the second half. The Hatters closed the first half on a 15-1 run with junior guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) and sophomore forward Sasha Sims (Fayetteville, Ga.) scoring six points each in that span.
Sims led Stetson in the first half with a game-high 14 points on seven for 11 shooting and allowed McGowan to get rolling late with eight points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
Stetson, which led 36-27 at the half, came out of the locker room focused and grew its lead to 14 points before the first media timeout. The Hatters would push ahead by as many as 17 and never led by less than 10 the rest of the way home for the 72-59 victory. With its lead at 59-49 with 6:23 to play, Sims drained a big three-pointer from the top of the key as part of a 7-1 microburst that restored a 16-point advantage and put matters out of reach.
A Second Team All-Atlantic Sun selection on Monday, Sims finished with 18 points on 50 percent shooting (8-16) to lead three Hatters in double figures. McGowan, the 2011-12 A-Sun Player of the Year, notched 15 points and nine rebounds and tied the school single-game record with 27 field goal attempts. Burris tallied a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double; junior guard Shanasa Sanders (Jacksonville, Fla.) tied McGowan for the team lead in rebounds with nine to go along with her seven points.
Hannah Ohl paced three Spartans in double figures with 18 points. Paulina Zaveckaite tallied a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double with Copney adding 10 points. Tyra Smith dished out 11 assists for USC Upstate.
Stetson will take on either third-seeded Belmont or sixth-seeded Jacksonville in the semifinals at 2:30 pm Friday. The game will be televised regionally on CSS and webcast free on ASun.TV. A link to Live Stats will also be available at GoHatters.com.
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