Friday, March 15, 2013

MORROW, G.A. – A near perfect half of basketball staked sixth-seeded Pfeiffer University out to a 20-point halftime lead over third-seeded Anderson University en route to claiming an 84-78 victory in the opening round of the 2013 Southeast Region tournament hosted by Clayton State. The Lady Falcons will hit all eight free throw attempts over the final 1:03 to advance to Saturday’s region semifinal at 5:00 p.m. against the winner of Barton/Limestone. The Lady Falcons move to 25-6 overall with the win while the Trojans end 2013 at 23-9.

Anderson came out early with a 13-9 lead after an Alissa Diaz (Coral Springs, FL) three with 4:30 gone by in the first half. On the next Pfeiffer possession, Jodie Lemons (Madison, NC) would knock down her first three of the night that would start a massive 15-1 run that saw another Lemons three along with Christina Harvey (Locust Grove, VA) to help put the Lady Falcons up 24-14. Kellie Rhoney (Catawba, NC) would toss in a layup to give Pfeiffer that 10-point lead with 10:44 remaining in the half.

Anderson would get back to within four, 26-22 with 8:37 to play as Madison Floyd (Cowpens, SC) drained back-to-back triples before the Lady Falcons opened up the first half on a massive 17-0 run. A pair of Harvey free throws started the stretch while four-straight points from Lemons and a three by Brittany Cox (Winston-Salem, NC) pushed the advantage out to 13, 35-22, with 5:14 to play. Lemons would end the run with eight-straight points, including two more threes, as Pfeiffer carried a 50-30 lead into the half.

The Trojans would get the lead down to nine coming up on the midway point of the half as Diaz started the run with a jumper in the paint in front of Breonda Shannon’s (Columbia, SC) four-straight points. Diaz would hit two from the charity stripe getting the lead down to nine at 57-48 before another Lemons long-range three stifled the run. Harvey and Lemons would help keep the lead at 13 until Anderson continued to slice the lead getting it down to a half-dozen with 3:53 to play.

Shannon and Harvey would trade baskets for each team heading into the final media timeout, before a Tilde Ahlin (Sodertalje, SWEDEN) three knock the lead back down to six with 2:09 play. After a layup by Diaz again cut it to six with 1:26 to play, the Lady Falcons would begin their assault at the free throw line. Lemons would hit two with 63 seconds left before Harvey hit two to push the lead back to six with 27 ticks left. Diaz would knock down a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to make it an 80-78 Pfeiffer advantage before four final free throws from Cox and a steal by Rhoney on the final in-bounds pass sealed an 84-78 win and a trip into the region semifinals.

Lemons would lead all scorers with 27 points on the day shooting 6-of-9 from the field hitting five triples and all 10 free throw attempts. Harvey would finish with 26, moving up from ninth to seventh on all-time scoring list, on 9-of-15 shooting and seven from the charity stripe while Cox concluded with an even 20 on 50% shooting. As a team, Pfeiffer shot 52% in the win, 85% from the free throw line while holding Anderson to 38% and just 8-of-31 from behind the arc.

“I’m so proud of our kids,” remarked Head Coach Jill Thomas in the post-game press conference. “We fought hard, dominated the first half and made the late free throws we needed to.”

Pfeiffer, who wins the school’s first-ever national tournament game, advances to Saturday’s semifinal round at 5:00 p.m. and will face a familiar Conference Carolinas opponent. The Lady Falcons will take on the winner of #2 Limestone/#7 Barton for a trip to Monday night’s region championship.