ETSU 63, North Florida 62
T-Ro has her East Tennessee State team back in the NCAA
TaRonda Wiles hit a baseline jumper in the final seconds, and
the top-seeded Bucs survived North Florida’s upset bid with a 63-62
victory on Saturday in the Atlantic Sun title game.
“The plan was whoever got the ball, they were supposed to
attack,” Wiles said. “I got the ball and did just that. I heard
Siarre (Evans) yelling behind me, so I knew she was there if I got
stuck – and hopefully she could put up a shot quickly. But I took
And it went in, setting off a wild celebration.
Evans finished 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucs (23-8),
while Wiles had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Tarita Gordon also had
Sophomore guard Brittany Kirkland had 15 points and seven
assists for the Ospreys (12-20), who led 62-61 with 18 seconds
left. North Florida forced a miss by East Tennessee State but the
ball went out of bounds, and Wiles – whose nickname is T-Ro – hit
the go-ahead jumper.
Juliemay Syquio’s full-court heave as the buzzer sounded was off
the mark, sending East Tennessee State to the NCAA tournament for
the third straight year.
“I am really proud of my team and their effort,” North Florida
coach Mary Tappmeyer said. “No one had expected us to win. I told
them at halftime they needed to go out and play that last 20
minutes with no regrets and I think they did that.”
Syquio finished with 13 points and Arlande Cherizol had 12
points and 12 rebounds for North Florida. Freshman forward Jadhken
Kerr added 10 points.
The two teams traded baskets in the opening minutes with neither
leading by more than three points, until the Bucs used an 18-5 run
to build a 30-14 lead with 1:30 left. North Florida responded with
an 8-1 spurt to make it 31-22 at halftime.
The Ospreys continued their run into the second half, outscoring
the Bucs 16-5 in the first six minutes to take a 38-36 lead at the
13:42 mark. The teams again traded baskets and were tied 58-all
with 2:30 left in the game.
North Florida got back into the game by heating up from the
field. The Ospreys shot 21.9 percent in the first 20 minutes but
went 14 of 25 in the second half, while holding East Tennessee
State to 12 of 39 from the field after the break.
“They played a heck of a game and had a strong run in the
tournament,” Bucs coach Karen Kemp said. “They came out
determined, and for a team to be in the championship for the first
time, they really competed hard. It’s hard even for us, because
they did play so well, to think their season is finished.”