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Lady Tigers heading to the big tournament

TUPELO, MS-Sophomore guard Veronica Lee connected on 7-of-13 shots from the floor for a team leading 18 points, but it would not be enough as Henderson State (17-12) ran its winning streak to 10 games with an 81-72 win over the Tigers on Friday in the GSC Tournament in Tupelo, Miss.

The teams went back and forth to open the contest and eventually were tied at 14-14. The Lady Reddies opened up a 10-point lead and would stay ahead, carrying a six-point lead into the locker room. After a delay due to weather in the area, HSU turned its six-point lead into 14 with 17 minutes remaining. The Tigers cut it to as little as two, but could never gain the lead.

HSU shot just under 50 percent from the field for the game, while the Tigers shot 37.9 percent. The Lady Reddies also won the battle of the boards 41-37 and forced 14 costly UWA turnovers.

Margo Porter added 16 points for the Tigers, while senior Nikki Jones chipped in with 13 points. Mallorie Kerby grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with four points and sophomore Pam Brown made 2-of-3 shots from the floor en route to scoring seven points.

Aesha Carter turned in a huge game for Henderson State, scoring 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds. Saprina Reed added 10 points and 10 assists, while teammate Crystal Oates added 16 points.

Despite the loss, the Lady Tigers were welcomed back home in Livingston Sunday with an invitation to the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

On the strength of a 21-7 record and their second GSC Eastern Division Title in the last three years, the University of West Alabama women’s basketball team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second time under three-year Head Coach Amanda Marks.

The Tigers will travel to Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., for the NCAA South Regional. West Alabama earned the number-five seed and will face number-four seed Christian Brothers on Mar. 12. The two teams met twice in the regular season, with CBU defeating the Tigers 79-59 in Memphis, Tenn., and West Alabama winning an overtime thriller 76-72 in Livingston.

“We are very excited to qualify for the South Regional, and are looking forward to making the trip to Rollins,” commented Marks. “Christian Brothers is a very solid team that we have already faced twice this season. We are familiar with them and know we will need our best effort if we expect to advance.”

This marks the second time in school history that UWA has qualified for the NCAA Tournament. West Alabama fell to Central Arkansas in the 2001-2002 regional opener 68-65 in overtime.