East 88, North 75 West 70, South 68
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Rehema Stephens of UCLA scored 17 points Saturday, including five free throws in the final 2:51, as the West beat the South 70-68 in the first round of the U.S. Olympic Festival.
In Saturday’s first game, Vicky Picott of Rutgers sparked two second-half runs that carried the East to an 88-75 victory over the North.
Stephens made one of two free throws with 2:51 left to give her team a 67-61 lead. The South then pulled within a point on a basket by Rhvonja Smith of Florida and a 3-pointer by Sherry David of South Carolina.
Stephens sank two free throws with 1:41 left to make it 69-66, and after Sophia Witherspoon of Florida scored to pull the South within a point, Stephens made one of two from the line with eight seconds left.
″I think we were lucky. The South team played very well and we certainly had to work hard to get the win,″ said West coach Linda MacDonald.
″But when you’re not playing your best and you still win, it feels pretty good.″
Tammi Reiss of Virginia scored 13 for the West, which will play the East on Sunday. Witherspoon and Wendy Scholtens of Vanderbilt scored 14 apiece for the South, which will play the North in the second round.
Saturday’s first game saw the East shoot 26 percent in the first half compared with 70 percent by the North in falling behind by 21 three times. The East trailed by 16 at halftime.
Then Picott got going, scoring eight points in a 24-3 run that opened the second half and gave the East a 58-53 lead.
The North came back to take a 64-63 lead with 7:51 to play, but Picott scored seven points in a 12-1 run that gave the East the lead for good.
″In the second half I started playing my own game,″ said Picott, who also had 10 rebounds. ″When I started to rebound, I was OK.″
North coach Marynell Meadors was shocked at the outcome.
″I’ve never seen two completely different halves of basketball,″ she said. ″We shot 70 percent in the first half, and I didn’t expect that again in the second, but I didn’t think we could possibly go as cold as we did.″
The North shot 28 percent in the second half.
Tanya Garner and Kathy Phillips of Penn State had 14 points apiece for the East. The North got 19 points from Sarah Sharp of Illinois and 15 from Joy Holmes of Purdue.