Tulsa Advances to C-USA Title Game with 81-68 Win over Southern Miss
March 4, 2006
Dallas - Junior All-America candidate Jillian Robbins scored 19 of her 23 points in the second half and senior Emily Jaskowiak chalked up a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds to send Tulsa into the Conference USA Championship game with an 81-68 semifinal victory over Southern Miss at Moody Coliseum.
Top-seeded Tulsa (24-5) advances to its first-ever conference championship game and will face No. 2 Rice this Sunday at 3:05 p.m. on ESPN2. The winner will receive the conference's automatic bid to the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
"Our team is now sitting on ready for our next opponent," Tulsa head coach Charlene Thomas-Swinson. "I've always preached to stay in the moment and if my players give their best that's all I can ask. But playing in a conference championship is unchartered waters for our team and we're just happy to be a part of it."
Tulsa made 31-of-34 (91.2 percent) free throws in the contest, including a 13-for-14 effort from Robbins. Southern Miss (14-15), after going 11-for-17 in the first half, connected on all 13 of its free throws after halftime. Golden Eagle freshman Amber Eugene, who tied Robbins for game-high honors in points with a career-high 23, was a perfect 9-for-9 from the line.
The Golden Hurricane overcame a 10-point deficit midway through the first half to take a 38-33 advantage at the break. Forward Megan Moody buried three of her four first-half three pointers after Robbins went to the bench with her third foul at the 9:23 mark and Tulsa trailing 19-11.
Southern Miss, who fell behind 5-0 in the opening minute of the game, built its largest lead of the game at 21-11 on a jumper by Rachael Manuel. The Golden Eagles' lead would not hold up though even with Robbins saddled with foul trouble.
The Golden Hurricane closed the half on a 9-0 run as Moody followed three successive field goals by Jaskowiak with her fourth trifecta. Kara Pongonis-Paslay, who did not attempt a shot in 33 minutes of action in the Golden Hurricane's quarterfinal victory over East Carolina, had eight first-half points. Moody finished with 16 points and Pongonis-Paslay finished with those eight points and added seven assists.
Robbins returned to start the second half and helped Tulsa take its first double-digit lead of the game as she scored six quick points to give the Golden Hurricane a 48-37 lead just under four minutes into the half.
Southern Miss cut its deficit to four at 63-59 on a jumper by Kendra Bell with just over four minutes to play in the game, but Tulsa responded with seven straight points, including six by Robbins to push the lead 11.
Liz Biland added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor for the Golden Eagles.
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