UNC Asheville Wins 2017 Championship - Mar 13, 2017
Bronaza Fitzgerald (6'0''-C)'s two free throws with five seconds left gave UNC Asheville its first lead of the game at 49-48, and Radford's two field goal attempts fell short to give the No. 7-seeded Bulldogs the 2017 Big South Women's Basketball Championship title Sunday at the Vines Center on the campus of Liberty University. With the win, Asheville repeats as Big South Tournament champions and earns its third berth to the NCAA Tournament. Sonora Dengokl (5'9''-G) earned Tournament MVP honors in leading the Bulldogs from the First Round to the Championship as Asheville is the first No. 7 seed to win the crown, as well as becoming the first team to capture the title with four wins in four days. It is also the first time in Big South Women's Basketball Championship history that the champion won all its tournament games by single digits. Radford jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first four minutes before Chatori Major (5'7''-G) got the Bulldogs on the board with a 3-pointer at 5:44. Sydney Nunley (6'4''-C) made it 10-3 with a 15-footer just before the first media timeout. The Highlanders continued to get the ball inside for a 14-5 advantage with 2:31 remaining in the opening quarter. Asheville closed the first stanza with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 14-11 behind a 12-footer by Khaila Webb (5'7''-G) and two baskets from Dengokl. The teams traded field goals the opening minutes of the second quarter before Asheville got within two at 18-16 on Ali Trani's traditional three-point play at the 8:33 mark. KJ Weaver (6'1''-C) tied the game at 18-18 with a layup underneath at 7:22, but Destinee Walker (5'11''-G/F) buried a three-pointer at 5:08 and Janayla White (6'2''-F) scored inside to regain the lead for Radford at 23-18. The Highlanders moved ahead 26-21 with 2:58 remaining in the first half and 30-24 before Webb nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it a three-point game. White's layup and a free throw by Jayda Worthy concluded the first half scoring for a 33-27 Highlanders' advantage. It was back-and-forth in the opening minutes of the third quarter, as the Bulldogs outscored Radford 6-4 heading into the media timeout to stay within four points at 37-33. Worthy extended the Highlanders' lead to seven with a three-point play, but Dengokl's lay-in on the other end kept Asheville within reach. The third quarter would end with Radford in front, 42-38. Asheville opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from Major to cut the deficit to one at 42-41. Four free throws by White and a layup from Worthy pushed the Highlanders lead back to seven at 48-41 with 5:10 remaining. But the Bulldogs continued to battle and got within one point at 48-47 on Major's soft jumper inside the lane with 55 seconds left to set up the final moments. Webb finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while White led Radford with her third double-double in the Tournament with 16 points and 12 boards. Joining Dengokl on the All-Tournament team were teammates Major and Fitzgerald, plus White and Worthy from Radford and Presbyterian's Cortney Storey (5'6''-G-96). The two teams met 10 years ago in the 2007 Championship, which was won by Asheville, 67-57. All five of Asheville's Big South Championship game opponents have been from the league's Virginia members. Asheville Head Coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick is now the fifth Big South coach with multiple Tournament titles.
Courtesy of BigSouthSports
Big South Conf. Tournament Final: UNC Asheville - Radford Big South Conf. Tournament Semifinals: Radford - Charleston Southern 53-50 UNC Asheville - Presbyterian 56-55
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