|Sidebar: Sims's Second-Half Effort Lifts Stetson|
She only received one vote for tournament Most Valuable Player, but without her heroic second-half effort against Florida Gulf Coast in Saturday's championship game, the Hatters would never have been crowned A-Sun champs.
Junior Sasha Sims scored 12 of her team-high 15 points in the final 20 minutes, recorded a career-high five blocks, and scored the game-winning basket with 21 seconds remaining to lift Stetson to an improbable 70-64 victory over the Eagles.
Even more impressive about Sims's performance was that she spent nearly the entire first half on the bench, after picking up her second foul just four minutes into the game.
"After I got in foul trouble I just tried to stay positive," Sims said. "I was cheering them on from the bench. You can't become selfish and just focus on what you have going on. I just kept focusing on the team, and eventually the game came back around to me."
Sims began the second half by hitting her 100th career three-pointer, cutting the FGCU lead from 15 down to 12. An offensive rebound and putback at the 16:25 mark trimmed the lead to 11.
The block party began with a little under nine minutes remaining when Sims stuffed back-to-back shot attempts by Sarah Hansen. Sims then ran down the floor and recieved a pass from Victoria McGowan before hitting a lay-up and converting a three-point play.
"Those blocked shots are momentum shifts," head coach Lynn Bria said. "I told her just stay and help as much as you can, because we knew they were going to isolate and try and drive. We tried to keep her around the basket as much as we could and she did a great job."
Sims added three more blocks over the next four minutes to keep the Hatters within striking distance, then with the score tied at 64 in the closing seconds, Sims hit a 10-foot jumper to the left of the lane to give Stetson a lead it would not relinquish.
"I heard the crowd and the bench went crazy, but I was just trying to put the ball in basket," Sims said. "I was trying to find the open man but couldn't find anyone, so I knew I had no choice but to shoot it and make it."
Sims, along with McGowan, was selected to the all-tournament team. However, personal accolades took a back seat for Sims to the importance of winning the championship for her teammates.
"This morning I woke up and I texted (Shanasa Sanders and McGowan) and told them we were going to win the championship because they deserved it," Sims said. "I felt like I had 40 minutes left in me and that was what I was going to give, no overtime, none of that. We were going to win the game period."
Win it, Stetson did, thanks in large part to Sims.
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