CARROLLTON, Ga. – It was evident that two teams fighting for their postseason lives went to battle on Tuesday night in the Gulf South Conference Quarterfinals at The Coliseum. It was West Georgia who came out on top as the Wolves women's basketball team advanced to the GSC Semifinals with a 60-57 victory over fifth-seeded North Alabama.
It is the second trip to the GSC semis in three years for head coach Scott Groninger and his Wolves with the last trip to Samford University coming in 2015. The win puts West Georgia at 15-12 overall on the season, while UNA's season ends at 19-10. The win earns the Wolves a showdown with top-seed West Florida on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. EST at the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University in Homewood, Ala.
De'Ashia Jones had another monster night for the Wolves as she recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Both offenses got off to a slow start as midway through the opening quarter, it was a 5-5 tie. UWG went from the 7:46 mark of the opening period to the 2:00 mark without a field goal, but West Georgia was 5-of-6 at the charity stripe in that stretch. Julianne Bayer scored five points in the final two minutes of the period as the Wolves trailed 16-15 after ten minutes of play.
The Wolves second quarter was a rough one, as the Wolves managed just eight points in the period. UWG went almost the entire final four and a half minutes of the second quarter without a basket until De'Ashia Jones tipped in a basket at the buzzer. The UWG defense held them close and in the game during that stretch, as UNA was only able to build a seven point lead at the break.
North Alabama quickly stretched their lead to double-digits less than a minute into the third, but a 14-1 run over a 3:40 span would tie things up at 41 late in the third quarter. UNA would get two clutch three-pointers from Emma Wallen to make it a six-point game after 30 minutes of play.
Both teams came out in the fourth quarter firing, but a 9-2 UWG run to start the quarter gave the Wolves their first lead since the opening quarter on Bre'ana Singleton's clutch three-pointer at the 6:08 mark, making it a 50-49 UWG lead.
Emma Wallen responded with a deep three of her own that put the Lions back up by a deuce. Over the final five minutes, both the Lions and Wolves traded baskets with neither team leading by more than three.
A'Kia Harris hit a layup that cut the lead to one with 1:39 remaining, but UNA went to the line, and went back up by two on their next possession. Aysha Harris then went to the line and buried two free throws with 57 seconds left that tied it up at 56-56. UNA then went up by one with 29 seconds left going 1-for-2 at the line.
The last 30 seconds were a wild ride as Scott Groninger called a timeout with 10 seconds left and drew up a play. After a missed attempt to take the lead, UWG and UNA went for a loose ball, and UWG kept possession on a held ball. Bre'ana Singleton then took the inbound and was then fouled intentionally sending the senior to the line down one. Singleton hit one to tie the game, but after a UNA technical foul, Aysha Harris hit two at the line to put the Wolves up by the final margin at three. UNA threw up a last second prayer, but it was short as UWG advanced.
Aysha Harris chipped in with 13 points on the night to go with three assists and two steals. Along with the 11 boards from Jones, D'Asia Cain was also in double-figures with 10. Senior Julianne Bayer played a big game for the Wolves as she scored nine points and pulled down three key rebounds including two on the offensive glass ion which she converted into second chance points.
Tip-time for Saturday's semifinal game in Homewood, Ala. is set for 1 p.m. EST as UWG takes on West Florida.