Wiles gives East Tennessee State A-Sun title

T-Ro has her East Tennessee State team back in the NCAA

tournament.

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

the shot.”

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

14 points.

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.”