UWA makes its mark
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
March 11, 2002
CLEVELAND Upstart West Alabama may have been here for only one night at the NCAA Division II South Regional, but a mark was made and the program can now eye a bright future under head coach Amanda Marks.
The Lady Tigers had a shot to beat Central Arkansas in overtime in Thursday night's opening round match-up. The shot, with under five seconds left, fell short. Central Arkansas was then able to post the 68-65 victory after hitting a pair of free throws in the final second.
Central Arkansas went on to upset top-seed and four-time defending Gulf South Conference champion Delta State on Friday night 98-89. It marked the first time the Lady Statesmen under retiring head coach Lloyd Clark had lost a NCAA Tournament game in Cleveland.
But even Central Arkansas couldn't maintain its hot play in Saturday night's regional final. Florida Tech held off a late Sugar Bear rally to claim the regional title with a 71-64 victory. This was Florida Tech's first-ever regional championship and they advance on to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Rochester, Minn.
West Alabama should have several chances to gain its regional title in the near future, because they helped make this the most competitive South Regional ever. Three of the six games went into overtime.
This may have been Lady Tigers' first ever appearance in a NCAA Tournament, but Marks feels it won't be the last.
Last year, West Alabama was 11-16. This year, they finished 22-6, quite a turnaround under Marks who had a successful tenure at Calhoun Community College where she went 105-64.
One big fan of the job done by Marks is GSC Commissioner Nate Salant.
Playing with heart and desire is a big reason why the Lady Tigers keep coming. Symbolizing that effort is freshman guard Tausha Evans.
Clark, who in his final game press conference, praised players like Evans and Central Arkansas Carone Harris who will help make the GSC a tough league for years to come.