Behind 20 points from reserve Jasmine Norman, the Savannah State Lady Tigers complete their run through the 2015 MEAC tournament with a 65-47 win over the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Lady Hawks, punching their ticket to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
In the school’s first NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament berth, No. 16 Savannah State will travel to Columbia, South Carolina to take on No. 1 South Carolina in the First Round of the tournament on Friday, March 20 at 5 p.m. in Colonial Life Arena. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.
To kick off the MEAC championship game, Savannah State and Eastern Shore hit the ground running, trading baskets, specifically from behind the arch as Ezinne Kalu knocked down her first two three-point attempts and UMES hit four in the first 8 minutes.
In the second half, the Lady Tigers asserted their dominance over the Lady Hawks. Unlike the first half, the Lady Hawks were unable to get going from three as the Lady Tigers’ defense took a step up. And as the Lady Tigers stiffled the Lady Hawks on defense, their offense came on strong, outscoring UMES 18-7 to open the half (SSU also scored the first eight points of the half).
As UMES attempted to climb back, SSU continued their run offensively, thanks in part to several turnovers forced on the offensive end and several timely buckets from Jasmine Norman, who scored 10 points in the second half during a 23-8 run that pushed Savannah State further away from Eastern Shore and closer to the NCAA tournament.
With four minutes left in the game, Shawnee Sweeney knocked down back-to-back threes in an attempt to spark a comeback for UMES, but by the two-minute mark, Cedric Baker, Lady Tigers head coach and 2014-15 MEAC Coach of the Year began pulling his starters, eventually skating to a 65-47 win. “I told (the team) to put in a great effort, that you’re playing for your teammates,” Cedric Baker, who earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach honor. “I told them that it’s an honor and a privilege to be in Norfolk playing in the MEAC Tournament, so play first-class, high-level basketball and have fun.”
On offense, the Lady Tigers were led by Jasmine Norman whose 20-point, two-rebound performance led way to the sophomore being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
The first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament begins on Friday, March 20 and the tournament concludes on Wednesday, April 7.