West Alabama drops OT thriller

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
March 8, 2002
CLEVELAND So Close. West Alabama was so close to pulling off a comeback here at the NCAA Division II South Regional.
The Lady Tigers, however, could not get a shot to fall in the final 11 seconds of overtime against Central Arkansas at Walter Sillers Coliseum on Thursday night.
Central's Yamecka Montgomery hit the game winning shot with 32.7 seconds left in overtime on a three-pointer to put UCA up 66-65. Kristen Frase then made two free throws in the final second to finish off the 68-65 win.
Central Arkansas, now 23-6, will now meet Delta State tonight at 8 in the Regional Semifinal game. West Alabama finishes an outstanding turnaround season at 22-6.
Coach Amanda Marks praised her team's character and the heart that they showed in rallying from a 17-point second half deficit. "My girls played with a lot of heart in coming back. it was pretty one-sided in the first half, but in the second half I kept using the media time-outs to see if we could break the lead down at each four minute stage."
West Alabama trailed 49-33 following a basket by Bekka Middleton who had a game high 23 points.
With 7:21 to play West had gotten it down to nine points following baskets by CaMeshia Pete and a basket by Nikki Jones. West Alabama made a final push in the final 1:20 of the game when Tausha Evans hit a three-pointer. Following a UCA shot clock violation, West had the chance to tie. Jones hit a 14-foot jumper to tie the game at 57-57.
In overtime, West took its largest lead at four points at 63-59 following two baskets by Jones. Montgomery then took over. She made four straight free throws to tie the game at 63-63. West Alabama took its last lead following a basket by Kim Cooper with 1:07 remaining.
Following Montgomery's three-pointer, West played for the final shot. Evans could not get a shot off, but did mange to retrieve the basketball giving West Alabama one last shot with seven seconds left.
Thelma Hearn took the final shot for West, but it came up short and Central rebounded it.
Jones led West Alabama with 17 points, Pete had 14, Evans had 12 and Cooper 10.
Frase had 16 points, 11 of which came in the first half to give Central a 40-25 halftime lead.
Central coach Ron Marvell said,this was one of the most physical games he has ever been a part of.
We thought Evans would take the last shot, or it would be Hearn and Hearn stepped through a gap and had a shot, but it was short," Marvell said.

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