|Buieâ€™s 3-Point Play Lifts No. 2 Savannah State to Title Game||< All News|
|Friday, March 13, 2015|
Both teams fielded an array of talented veterans in the semifinal game, but it was Savannah State freshman Shanikwa Buie that emerged as the night’s clutch player.
NCAT redshirt senior Debbie Smith dropped a timely 3-pointer with 49 seconds to play, tying the game for the sixth time, at 59 all.
On the Lady Tigers’ ensuing possession, SSU redshirt senior Ezinne Kalu missed a layup. SSU sophomore Kenyata Hendrix grabbed the rebound and got it to Buie who went up in the paint, drew a foul and got the shot to drop.
Buie finished the traditional 3-point play with a good free-throw to lift SSU to a 62-59 advantage with 13 seconds on the clock.
SSU’s defense held tight as Adriana Nazario went for a 3-pointer while the seconds ticked away, but her shot bounced off the rim. SSU’s Tiyonda Davis grabbed the rebound, and held on to help send her Lady Tigers to the title game on Saturday.
“At the end, we got a lucky roll our way,” Savannah State head coach, and MEAC Coach of the Year Cedric Baker said. “Shanikwa Buie was able to get the basket and draw the foul. We were able to come out successful. Hats off to our freshman. She went from a reserve to a starter and I am very well pleased with her effort, as well as the team.”
Game 19 of the 2015 MEAC Championship was a tale of two halves. The Lady Aggies – who entered on an 11-game winning streak – came out on fire. They shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first period, out-rebounded SSU 21-11 and ended the first period on a 12-2 run for a 35-27 lead at the half.
Flipping the table, SSU came out of the locker room with a 15-2 run to take a 42-37 lead seven minutes into the half. The tenacious Lady Aggies bounced back however, retaking the lead with 6:45 to play behind two good free-throws from Nazario.
The redshirt junior led the Lady Aggies on the night with 14 points. Four Lady Aggies finished in double-digits on the evening. Smith had 13, while junior April McRae and sophomore Dana Brown each added 10.
The Lady Tigers opened a 6-0 run for a 54-49 lead with 4:26 to play. NCAT was not finished though as Smith added a short jumper and a 3-pointer to tie the game up for the fifth time a few minutes later.
“I want to congratulate Coach Cedric Baker and the Savannah State Lady Tigers,” N.C. A&T State head coach Tarrell Robinson said. “They did a great job in the second half. They flipped it on us in the second half and came off with a great victory.”
SSU’s defense held NCAT to a 36.0 percent clip from the field in the second half, and improved their own shooting from 32.1 percent to 46.9 percent.
Kalu led SSU with 15 points. Senior Bria Dorsey tacked on 12 of her own, with three steals. SSU had seven important steals in the game. They lead the MEAC and are third in the nation in steals per game. NCAT committed 17 costly turnovers in the game.
It was the third matchup between SSU and NCAT this season, and the first ever in a MEAC Championship.
The Lady Tigers earned their first MEAC victory over NCAT in January, beating the Lady Aggies 59-56 in Greensboro. NCAT handed SSU one of only three conference losses and one of only three losses in Tiger Arena this season later that same month with a 53-48 win.
Since that lost, SSU has gone on a program-high, 10-game win streak.
Savannah State will see the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Saturday’s MEAC Championship game. It will be the second time the teams have met this year. UMES – who upset five-time defending MEAC Champion Hampton in the quarterfinals – beat SSU 61-50 on Jan. 17 in Maryland.