WINTER PARK, Fla. (March 10, 2012) - Rollins managed just 19 first half points, but rode the intensity of its boisterous home crowd in the second as the top-seed Tars beat fifth-seed Delta State 69-59 in the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament semifinal.
Rollins (26-5) advances to the South Region title game against sixth-seed Valdosta State on Monday at 7 p.m. in Winter Park. The Lady Blazers upset second-seed Florida Southern 67-63 in the day's first semifinal.
Veronica Walker paced DSU (22-7), tallying in 16 points and 12 rebounds. Ann Shelby Davis netted 12 off the bench and Brooke Rhodes added 10.
"That was another gutty performance by this team," said Rollins head coach Glenn Wilkes Jr. "We've been down big in five or six games this season and came back each time. I'm extremely proud of the way we have responded to every hurdle this season and has put ourselves in position to achieve our goal of the Elite Eight."
For the second-straight game, the Tars came out hot and went up 6-0 after the first four minutes. The Lady Statesmen came back to knot the score at seven midway through the period and led by three, 16-13 with 6:09 to play in the half.
The Tars made a late push and went up 19-18 after a Berry triple at the 2:31 mark. Delta State then took the air out of the Tars with an 8-0 run to close the period and led 26-19 at halftime.
DSU maintained its lead to start the second frame and was up 45-39 with 11:53 left. Jones quickly hit a driving layup for Rollins and sparked a 5-0 run to give the Tars a 46-45 advantage midway through the second.
Rollins then saw the Lady Statesmen come back to tie the score at 48, but held a 51-50 lead with 5:25 to go. Berry hit another big 3-pointer on Rollins next trip down the floor, then the Tars defense clamped down and forced four-straight missed field goals. Rollins began to pull away by converting at the free throw line.
Jones shut the door with a 3-pointer at the 1:32 mark to give Rollins a commanding 63-53 lead. Six straight free throws followed and Rollins punched its ticket into the championship game.
The Tars shot just 17 percent in the first half, but hit 50 in the second, ending the day 32 percent (19-of-60) from the field. DSU shot 33 percent (17-52) and outrebounded Rollins 47-40.
Rollins will play in the regional championship game for the third time in school history and for the first time since 2004. Fans will be able to follow the Tars against the Lady Blazers live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com.