AT A GLANCE - From 303 teams that started the season, to 64 in the postseason, and eight in the final round, Rollins is now one of just four teams remaining in the 2012 NCAA Division II Elite Eight. Rollins matches up with Shaw University Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. Eastern in San Antonio with a trip to the national championship game on the line.
The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports (click here to check your local listings for channel information). Fans can also follow the action live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com and locally on 91.5 FM WPRK.
The Tars (28-5) are coming off a thrilling, 66-62 comeback victory over Lander in the quarterfinal Tuesday. Rollins was down eight late in the game, but finished on a 16-4 run and held the Bearcats scoreless over the last 5:07. Paris Moore led the way for the Tars with 13 points while tallying two crucial rebounds and four-straight free throws in crunch time. Sarah Blackburn chipped in 10 points while Ashley Jones and Sarah Taylor each posted nine points and six rebounds.
Shaw (26-6), out of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, beat Pittsburg State 61-58 in its first game of the Elite Eight. Aslea Williams led the Lady Bears with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Kyria Buford netted 13 points. Shaw was the second-seed in the Atlantic Region and upset top-seed Edinboro to advance to the Elite Eight for the second straight season. The school of 2,400 is located in Raleigh, N.C.
Rollins rode into the Elite Eight on an eight -game winning streak, including dramatic wins in the regular season finale, SSC tournament and NCAA South Regional. The run started with a 62-60 win over Nova Southeastern on the last day of the regular season to give the Tars a share of the SSC title. Rollins was down 17 in the second half and came roaring all the way back for a big statement victory. A week later in the conference tournament title game against Florida Southern, the Tars built a 22-point second half lead but had to hold off the Mocs on their own floor, winning 71-68.
The win propelled the Tars to the top-seed for the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament and put the event in Winter Park for the third time. Rollins dispatched eight-seed West Alabama 71-44 in the opener and then pushed past Delta State 69-59 in the semifinals. The Tars met six seed Valdosta State in front of more than 1,200 fans in the tournament championship. The teams were tied at 53 with three minutes to play before a clutch Ashley Jones 3-pointer put the Tars ahead. The defense then held down the stretch and Rollins cut down the nets in Warden Arena for the first time in NCAA tournament play.
Paris Moore was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player, shooting 11-of-14 from the field and averaging nine points, five rebounds and three steals over the three games. Ashley Jones was also on the All-Tournament team, tallying 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on the weekend.
Rollins, ranked 15th in the latest USA TODAY/ESPN Division II Coaches Poll, finished the regular season 21-5 overall and 12-4 in the SSC. Head Coach Glenn Wilkes Jr. put together one of the nation's toughest schedules that saw the Tars play six games against opponents in the WBCA's final regular season national poll. Rollins opened the season against defending national champion and then top-ranked Clayton State, narrowly falling 54-51 in Tampa. The following day, Rollins beat 16th-ranked Wisconsin-Parkside 66-58 as the Rangers have since rattled off a 22-4 season and are ranked No. 17 heading into the postseason. Rollins split the series with No. 19 Florida Southern in the regular season as each team defended home court with the Tars winning the rubber match on Sunday. The Tars beat two teams who received votes in the latest national poll, Johnson C. Smith and Holy Family.
Rollins started the first two months of the season 14-1 and went from unranked to No. 7 in the Division II poll. The win streak was halted at Florida Tech, 64-62 on Jan. 21. The Tars bounced back with a win over Nova Southeastern, but lost its next time out to 19th-ranked Florida Southern, 59-56. Five-straight wins followed to get Rollins back into the national top-10 and open up a two-game lead in the SSC standings. Another loss to Florida Tech, followed by a setback at Barry and win at Nova Southeastern, dropped the Tars into a three-way tie in the final conference standings.
ROLLINS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT - Rollins is participating in its 12th NCAA Division II Tournament and has advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The Tars had twice been one-game away from a spot in the national quarterfinals, falling to Delta State in the 2000 South Region Championship game and dropping a decision to Henderson State in the 2004 title match. Rollins is 8-11 all-time in NCAA Division II Tournament play. The Tars are a combined 3-1 in match-ups with teams in the 2012 Elite Eight. Rollins is 1-1 versus Wayne State and 1-0 against both Bentley and Alaska-Anchorage. The Tars have never played Lander, Ashland, Shaw or Pittsburg State.
THE TARS STARS - WBCA Division II Honorable Mention selection Ashley Jones leads Rollins' season box score, averaging 11.8 points per game. She is one of the top 3-point shooters in school history, hitting 66-of-192 from long range this season, while also pulling down 3.9 rebounds a game. The sophomore was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament and was the SSC Newcomer of the Year. Sarah Blackburn scores eight points a night off the bench while Paris Moore and Kourtnie Berry each put up 7.8 a game. Moore, the SSC Defensive Player of the Year, gathers 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals a night. No Tar averages more than 23 minutes a game with 10 playing 10 minutes or more a night. Seven players average better than five points a game.
THE SILVER FOX - Rollins legend Glenn Wilkes, Jr. (Stetson '81) is in his 26th season at the helm of the Tars program and, with a record of 581-188, is the winningest coach in program history. Wilkes, Jr. is the fifth winningest active coach in Division II (seventh by win total) and is the 13th winningest coach all-time. Wilkes has been named the SSC Coach of the Year a record nine-times and was named the head coach of the Sunshine State Conference Silver Anniversary Team.
Glenn Wilkes Jr. is the son of Stetson University legend Glenn Wilkes who led the Hatters' men's program for 36 years. The elder coach posted a career record of 551-436 at the helm and brought Stetson from an NAIA program to NCAA Division I national prominence. The younger Wilkes was a point guard for his father and still ranks among the Hatters' all-time assists leaders. Younger brother Rob Wilkes is assistant men's coach at Old Dominion and another brother Scott was a two-year letterman at Florida State.
700 CLUB - The victory over West Alabama in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament gave the Rollins College Women's basketball program its 700th victory in 42 years as a varsity program. The Tars had never won more than 16 games in a season prior to Glenn Wilkes taking the helm. In his tenure, Rollins has enjoyed 20 seasons with 20 or more victories. Rollins all-time record is 703-362 (.660 winning percentage).
1000 CLUB - Rollins enjoys one of the winningest men's-women's coaching tandems in the history of collegiate basketball. Women's Coach Glenn Wilkes Jr. currently boasts a career record of 581-188 (26 years) while men's head coach Tom Klusman is 591-328 in 32 seasons at the helm. The duo's career record of 1,171-515 equals an all-time winning percentage of .694.
CHALK ONE UP FOR THE LITTLE GUYS - Rollins is easily the smallest school in the 2012 NCAA Division II Elite Eight. The lakefront campus just a few miles from downtown Orlando has an undergraduate enrollment of 1,752. By contrast, Alaska-Anchorage's enrollment tops out at 20,554, Pittsburg State has 7,275 students and Ashland totals 6,000 undergraduates. Bentley (4,157), Wayne State (3,500), Lander (3,000) and Shaw (2,364) are also larger than Rollins.