FLORENCE, S.C. - Top-seeded Wingate University advanced to the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Region tournament championship game Saturday night when the Bulldogs outlasted fifth-seeded Augusta State University 66-65 at Francis Marion’s Smith University Center.
Wingate, which improves to 25-7, will face the Lander/Clayton State winner at 7 p.m., Monday for a berth into Division II’s Elite Eight in Kearney, Neb. Augusta State ends its season at 20-10.
Wingate’s Jessy Keitt put back an offensive rebound with 1:23 left in the game to give the Lady Bulldogs a 64-62 lead. After an ASU turnover, Anna Atkinson’s jumper in the paint stretched the Wingate lead to 66-62 with 21 seconds left.
A three-point play by ASU’s Porsha White with 13 ticks left cut the margin to 66-65. Following a pair misses at the free throw line by Wingate, Augusta State had one opportunity to win the game, but point guard Deo Ngulela dribbled the ball off her foot while coming up court and the Lady Jaguars were unable to get off a shot before the horn sounded.
Atkinson scored a game-high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. CC Brooks added 15 points for the Bulldogs and Stacie Rhodes 12. Keitt led Wingate in rebounds with nine.
Augusta State was paced by Jasmine Godwin and Tracey Paschal, who scored 11 and 10 points respectively.
For the game, Wingate connected on 19-of-66 field goals for 28.8 percent, including 3-of-12 three pointers for 25 percent. The Lady Bulldogs, who outrebounded the Lady Jags 47-40, also made 25-of-32 free throws for 78.1 percent.
ASU was 24-of-58 from the field for 41.4 percent, including 4-of-18 three pointers for 22.2 percent. The Lady Jags made 13-of-19 free throws for 68.4 percent.
Augusta State battled back from a 34-28 halftime deficit when the Lady Jags tied the game at 34-34 with 18:11 left in the game on a pair of White field goals and two free throws by Paschal.
Wingate’s largest lead of the second half came when Stacie Rhodes’ jumper gave the Bulldogs a 45-38 lead with 14:47 left.
Wingate, which made just 6-of-33 field goals for 18.2 percent in the first half, connected on 20-of-22 free throws for 90.9 percent to lead 34-28 at halftime.
Augusta State went on a 7-0 run to start the game. Wingate scored its first two points on a pair of Atkinson free throws at 17:05.
The Bulldogs retaliated with a 5-0 run to cut the lead to 11-9 on two more Atkinson free throws at 10:13. After Augusta State stretched its lead to 14-9 on a three pointer by Nicole Mealing, Wingate tied the game at 14-14 on a three-point play and field goal by Atkinson.
Brooks gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 17-14 on a three-pointer with 7:12 left in the half and extended the lead to 21-16 on a three-point play by Kasey Gillis.
The Bulldogs stretched their lead to as much as nine points on several occasions, the first being 28-19 on a pair of free throws by Brooks at 4:24.
The Lady Jags cut the lead to 30-24 with 2:33 left after Sonya Jackson netted a pair of free throws and Jasmine Godwin had a steal and layup.