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Spartan women cruise to reach SSC title game
By STEVE LEE
Published March 5, 2006
ST. LEO - Tampa matched a school record Saturday with its 23rd victory, defeating Barry 64-48 in a Sunshine State Conference women's semifinal.
But coach Tom Jessee said he wants more.
"We want to get one more," said Jessee, who is in his first season with the Spartans.
Tampa (23-6) will set the record if it beats top-seeded Rollins, a 62-47 winner over Nova Southeastern, in today's final at 3:30. The No.2-seeded Spartans lost twice (71-58 and 63-46) to two-time defending champion Rollins (28-0) this season.
Tay Mathis scored a game-high 22 for Tampa, which dominated from the outset and led 33-20 at halftime. The junior point guard had 13 before the break.
"Tay's a big-game player," Jessee said. "I think Tay came out and set the tone right away. That's what you expect a leader to do."
Mathis, a three-time All-SSC selection, was one of three Spartans in double figures. Courtney Wilder scored 13 and Shaneisha Walton 10.
Walton also had two blocks to tie Jessie McDowell's school season record of 97.
Tampa is aiming for its second conference title and first since 2000 while Rollins seeks its seventh title.
"You just want to advance," Jessee said. "It doesn't matter how you get there. You just want to move on."
In the men's semifinals, Eckerd lost 67-64 to Rollins and Barry defeated Lynn 57-49. Rollins and Barry play at noon today.
Eckerd (21-8), the No.5 seed, trailed No.1 Rollins (22-7) 64-57 with 2:05 left. But James Henderson made a 3-pointer to pull the Tritons within four.
Then came consecutive steals by Andre King-Holland and Matt Cenatus. King-Holland followed his with a dunk and put in a layup after Cenatus' to tie it at 64.
Deon Troupe's 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, however, thwarted Eckerd's comeback.