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Lady Dawgs in first Elite Eight
Mar 21, 2007 12:00 am
JACKSON — Clint Mason's Cumberland Lady Bulldogs are entering a realm normally associated with Woody Hunt's baseball teams – the deep recesses of an NAIA national tournament.
The Lady Bulldogs advanced to the NAIA's elite eight for the first time Friday with an 86-83 upset of another school normally associated with baseball, Lewis-Clark [Idaho] State at Oman Arena.
"It was a great win for our program," said Cumberland coach Clint Mason, whose Lady Bulldogs lost in this round to Houston Baptist two years ago. "It's a major stepping stone for our program.
"It says a lot about how far our program's come."
Cumberland led most of the way. But Lewis-Clark went ahead 83-82 on two free throws by Katya Yancheva with 36 seconds to play.
C'Kala Humes answered for Cumberland with two from the other line with 18 seconds left. After a Lewis-Clark turnover, senior point guard Ashley Cross, who played all 40 minutes, connected on two more with 10 seconds remaining as the Lady Bulldogs advanced to today's 4 p.m. quarterfinal game againsat Langston [Okla.] with a 25-7 record.
Humes hit 11 of 13 free throws to lead five Lady Bulldogs in double figures with 17 points. Forward Renae Williams fired in five of Cumberland's nine three-pointers on her way to 16 points while Kiana Robinson finished with 15, Cross 13 and Tomika Hall 12. Mariel Ruis racked up five points, Isabelli Cunico four and Juliana Fernandes and Kari Maddox two each.
Cross also had eight assists while Hall hauled in eight rebounds.
Janeen Nelson knocked down four triples as she and Ashley Baker each cooked up 24 points for Lewis-Clark. Yancheva threw in 13 and Jade Fulbright 10 as the Lady Warriors, ranked No. 2 in the final NAIA poll, finished a 31-3 season.
In a matchup of two schools who met in last year's NAIA baseball championship game, Lewis-Clark jumped to a 14-5 lead before Cumberland put together runs of 11-0 and 8-0 to to up 37-34 by halftime.
"We came out flat," Mason said. "We didn't have a lot of energy. We weren't aggressive, we weren't attacking the basket.
"We started attcking the basket, getting some buckets in transition and hit a couple of threes... They got winded in the second half, and then we got [over]confident. They started fullcourt-man pressing and we had five out of seven possessions were turnovers."
The Lady Bulldogs twice led by 13 in the second half, the latter at 60-47, before Lewis-Clark reeled off 12 straight to draw within 60-59 with just over eight minutes remaining.
Langston advanced with a 60-40 win over Brescia [Ky.]. Jamie Skinner scored 17 points, Mataly McBath-Belvin 16 and Teneisha McKinney 14 for the ...., who improved to 29-4.
"They're a very athletic, uptempo-paced team," Mason said of the Red River Conference champions. "They got one of the best guards in the country [5-3 point guard McBath-Belvin], lightning-quick point guard.
"We got to go out and take care of turnovers... We got to get up and down the court and crash the boards well. We got to come out and set the tone early and play hard."
Trevecca advances to face unbeaten Vanguard
Trevecca reached the elite eight for the third straight year with a 57-55 win over Carroll [Mont.]. Mt. Juliet freshman Christian Gibson finished with five points while fellow former Lady Bear Paige McFarlin tossed in two off the bench as the Lady Trojans of MJ's Gary Van Atta moved to 27-6.
The Lady Trojans next catch top-ranked and unbeaten Vanguard [Calif.] at 2 p.m. today. The winner will catch the Langston-Cumberland winner at 6 p.m. Monday in the semifinals.
The championship game is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday.