The Motlow State Lady Bucks took defending champion Walters State to the wire Friday afternoon before falling 58-49 in the championship game of the TCCAA/Region VII Tournament on the Lady Senators’ home floor in Morristown, Tenn.
The Lady Bucks (27-5) advanced to the championship game for only the second time in school history, joining the 2005-06 team. Motlow received welcome news on Sunday when the NJCAA announced the Lady Bucks had earned an at-large invitation to the women’s national tournament, scheduled for March 20-25 in Lubbock, Texas. It is the first national tournament bid in Motlow women’s basketball program history, which began in 1974. Seeding will be announced Monday afternoon.
Motlow, the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and No. 18 ranked team in the nation, earned its way to the conference title game by opening the tournament with a 64-45 win over Cleveland State, then beating Jackson State 77-68 in the semifinals.
Lady Bucks’ freshman Sara Vujacic was named the TCCAA Freshman of the Year and also selected to the all-tournament team. Motlow classmate Tamiah Stanford was named to the all-conference first team and also named all-tournament, while sophomore Kienya Jones was named first team all-conference.
Playing in front of a hostile crowd in Morristown on Friday, the Lady Bucks fell behind 20-15 after the first quarter. Neither team could generate much offense in the second quarter, and the Lady Senators led at the half 26-22.
The Lady Bucks took their first lead of the game with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter when Stanford buried her only three-pointer of the day. The lead shuffled back and forth until the end of the third, with Motlow holding a three point lead 39-36.
After the Lady Bucks increased their lead to 41-36, Walters State began heating up from the floor. The Lady Senators tied the game 41-41 with 6:26 remaining and took a lead soon after that they would keep until the final horn sounded.
Vujacic led the Lady Bucks with 20 points and added six rebounds, while Stanford scored 19 and added four rebounds. Motlow had no other player score more than two points. The Lady Bucks shot only 35.7 percent from the field, including 4-16 three pointers, and hit only 5-13 free throws. Walters had a similar shooting day, hitting 36 percent from the floor and 3-15 three pointers. However, the difference came at the free throw line where the Lady Senators connected on 19-27 attempts.
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