Jackson St. 71, Grambling St. 62
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Jackson State brushed aside women’s defending Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament champion Grambling, 71-62, in the championship final on Sunday.
The victory sends Jackson State (22-6) into the NCAA women’s tournament, they’re first post-season appearance since the 1982-83 season and the fourth in the school’s history. They will face No. 2 seed Penn State on Friday in the Midwest Regional. Jackson State is seeded 15th.
Grambling ended its season with a 21-7 record.
Jackson State used a 13-point effort by LaTisha Gibbs to grab a 31-25 halftime lead. Grambling fell behind by 10 in the second half, 49-39, on Aretha Braddock’s basket at 10:05.
The defending champions, however, roared back to tie the game at 56-all on Nakesha Tucker’s basket with 5:11. Jackson State then went on an 8-0 run for a 64-56 edge and held on for the title win.
All-Tournament Tera Sheriff had 12 points and 16 rebounds to pace Jackson State.
Gibbs, who scored the last five points of the first half, led all scorers with 19 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Kim Linson had 18 points and 15 rebounds for Jackson State.
The most revealing of the statistics was Jackson State’s 68 rebounds, double the amount grabbed by Grambling.
``It was an outstanding game for us and I knew we had to control the boards,″ Jackson State coach Andrew Pennington said. ``I told our girls that, and we did. We also had to control our offense and we did a good job of that, too.″
``Jackson State was just the better team today,″ said Grambling coach Pat Bibbs. ``I say that because they controlled the boards on us. I felt we couldn’t win if they controlled the boards. We hustled, but they simply outhustled us.″
All-Tourney Sha Hopson, Grambling’s leading scorer for the season, hit only six of 25 shots. Still, she led her team in scoring with 17 points. Janetta Graham and Shiakiea Carter each added 10 points.