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Time to dance: PC punches ticket, wins Big South title

PC players celebrate their semifinal victory over No. 1-seed High Point Saturday. The Blue Hose downed Radford Sunday to win PC’s first Big South basketball championship and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

The Presbyterian College women’s basketball team won its first Big South Conference championship Sunday with a 60-37 victory over Radford at High Point University’s Qubein Center, earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

No. 5-seeded PC broke open a tight contest in the fourth quarter, ending the game with a 24-5 run behind a stifling defense and the play of sixth-year senior Bryanna Brady. Brady scored a game-high 21 points.

The bracket for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament will be announced Sunday, March 17.

PC (20-14) led 21-20 at the half. After nine lead changes in the game, the Blue Hose extended their lead beyond one possession in the third quarter. A Brady layup gave PC a 36-32 lead at the end of the third, and Radford never got closer.

Mara Neira opened the fourth quarter – and the scoring flood gates for PC – with a 3-pointer and followed that with a short jumper to extend PC’s lead to 41-32. No. 3 Radford (15-19) answered with the next three points to cut the lead to 41-35, but the Blue Hose outscored the Highlanders 19-2 over the final 6:55.

PC head coach Alaura Sharp praised her team’s resilience after losing four players to season-ending injuries and then regrouping to win 8 of their final 9 games and PC’s first Big South basketball title.

“They have a resilient spirit about themselves, and you could see it,” Sharp said. “Our defense held them to 37 points, and Radford is a really good basketball team that’s coached by a really amazing coach, but I just don’t think anyone could stop our kids in this tournament.”

PC held Radford to 30% shooting (17 of 56) for the game and only 9% (2 of 23) from 3-point range. The Blue Hose fared little better from distance hitting just 3 of 18 (17 %) from beyond the arc, but were able to find Brady in the fourth quarter ended up shooting 40% (20 of 50) from the field. Brady hit 8 of 11 shot attempts.

PC also hit 17 of 22 free-throw attempts, while Radford went to the free-throw line only twice, hitting one of those two attempts.

Tilda Sjökvist added 11 points and Neira scored 10 for PC. Ashlyn Traylor-Walker led the Highlanders with 14 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Sjökvist was named tournament MVP and joined Neira and Brady on the all-tournament team.

“We lost by 19 in our last regular-season game (to Charleston Southern), and we told each other that we weren’t going to quit on each other, and that we weren’t coming home from High Point without a net around my neck,” Sharp said. “And we did just that.”

 

 

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