KISSIMMEE, Fla. (March 8, 2014) – Sarah Blackburn and Sarah Taylor had their usual big games, but Rollins came up short against Nova Southeastern 80-70 in the semifinals of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament on Saturday.
The 16th-ranked Tars fall to 24-6 on the year while 10th-ranked NSU improves to 24-4 and will meet Tampa in the SSC Final Sunday afternoon.
Blackburn poured in 18 points to lead Rollins while All-SSC first teamer Taylor tallied a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Jen Farrell added nine points off the bench.
The Tars’ nationally ranked defense controlled the action early against the Sharks’ nationally ranked offense as Rollins led 23-16 midway through the first period. Rollins later held a 27-22 advantage before NSU used a 10-0 run to take a 32-27 advantage at the 2:42 mark.
Jacquar Westbrooks drilled a deep 3-pointer with two minutes left to close scoring as Rollins trailed 32-20 at intermission.
Blackburn scored seven quick points to start the second as the Tars took a 39-37 lead with 16 minutes left.
NSU then slowly started to pull away and put Rollins down 61-50 at the eight-minute mark.
Farrell hit a triple to get the comeback started as the Tars whittled the NSU lead to 69-64 with less than two minutes left. Taylor cut the deficit in half with a 3-pointer, and the defense got a stop on the other end to give Rollins possession. A Taylor attempt to tie was off the mark and NSU quickly got the rebound up court to Taylor Buie, who hit her sixth 3-pointer of the game and put Rollins back down five, 72-67.
The Tars got to as close as four after another Taylor triple with 44 ticks left, but NSU hit all six free throw attempts down the stretch.
Buie led NSU and all scorers with 26 points, hitting 9-of-13 from the field. Danielle Robinson added 13 points while Amanda Burakoski posted 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Rollins was ranked No. 2 in the latest NCAA Division II South Region poll, which all but assures its trip to the NCAA Tournament. The selection show is slated for Sunday, March 9 at 10 p.m. Fans can access the show through NCAA.com and RollinsSports.com.