March 1, 2012

The End of the Road

COLUMBUS, Ga. – A season of firsts came to an end for the Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricanes in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. Coach Britsky and company were unable to avenge an earlier season loss to the #23 Lander Lady Bearcats as they lost 74-66 Thursday afternoon.

Seniors Jessica Bivins and Terra Branch led the way for the Blue & Gold with 19 points and 16 points respectively. The duo shot a combined 15-34 (44.1%) from the field as the rest of the Lady 'Canes combined to shoot 12-43 (27.9%). It was a total team effort on the glass for the Blue & Gold that had four players (Randall, Walker, Bivins and Jones) register a team-high seven rebounds. The poor team shooting negated GSW's victory in the rebounding battle (+9) and the 18 Lander turnovers they forced.

It was also a two-woman show for the nationally-ranked Lady Bearcats. Guards Brittni Johnson (26 points) and Mukia Myrick (21 points) combined to score over 63% of Lander's total points. Johnson was the Hurricane killer in the second half scoring 18 of her 26 points in the game's final twenty minutes.

It was a wire-to-wire victory for Lander who never trailed in the 40 minutes of action inside the Lumpkin Center on the campus of Columbus State University. The Lady Bearcats would lead by as many as twelve in the first half en route to a 34-30 halftime lead. The reduced Lander lead at the break was due in large part to Jessica Bivins' twelve first-half points.

The scoring punch from Bivins was not enough to overcome the 33.3% shooting from the field for GSW in the first half nor the meager three foul shots earned at the foul line.

Lander would take control from the get-go in the second half as they scored they put together a 10-0 run in the first 3:17 of the half. Georgia Southwestern would fight and claw to keep the lead in the single digits for the next ten minutes before Lander pushed the lead back to ten points with a Brittni Johnson three-pointer.

Again the Blue & Gold would scratch and claw their way back cutting the ten-point lead to just four points with 2:59 left to play. The Lady Bearcats would push the lead back to nine before Jessica Bivins would cut it again to just four points with 59 seconds left to play.

Georgia Southwestern would get a near steal on a trap before electing to foul. Lander would make six of their last eight free throws in the final minute to secure the eight point victory.

Saturday afternoon's loss officially ended the 2011-12 season for the Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricanes and their five seniors Terra Branch, Jessica Bivins, Tania Walters, Samantha Smith and Jessica Jones. However, it didn't take away from the magical season that was for Coach Britsky and company.

Their 18 total wins and ten conference wins cemented this season as the program's best since joining the NCAA Division II and the Peach Belt Conference in 2006. Their season of highlights culminated with Adrian Randall (Third Team) and Terra Branch (Second Team) becoming the first players in Georgia Southwestern women's basketball history to earn post-season All-Conference accolades.