Ryan's Three Advances Redhawks to OVC Title Game
March 4, 2005
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - (Friday, March 04, 2005) On Thursday night at the Ohio Valley Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Banquet, Tatiana Conceicao (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Western Nebraska CC) repeated that her OVC Player of the Year award was more her teammates than hers. Any doubters of that statement was proven wrong Friday afternoon at the semifinal game of the O'Reilly Ohio Valley Conference Women's Championship Tournament. The Redhawks used balance scoring, as seven players scored seven points or more and a game-winning three-pointer by the hottest Redhawk to advance to their second OVC Championship game appearance in three years and the chance to earn the NCAA Women's Tournament automatic berth.
Junior Tiffanne Ryan (Oklahoma City, OK/Westmoore) nailed a three-pointer with four tenths of a second remaining in the game to sink the title hopes of Tennessee Tech, 71-68.
With the score knotted at 68 apiece the Redhawks had the final possession after the Golden Eaglettes failed to convert on the opposite end of the court. After Brandi Russia (Cincinnati, OH/Northeastern Oklahoma A&M) couldn't find Conceicao open at the top of the key and then passed it to Ryan, who was waiting behind the three-point line.
"This is the first time I have ever hit a game winner," said Ryan. "I saw that Tatiana (Conceicao) was covered, so I knew the ball was coming my way. I just let it flt and it felt good coming out of my hand."
In a game that was far removed from the type of game that the Redhawks played in the first round against Samford, offense came in bunches and featured 13 lead changes and 12 ties.
The Redhawks jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead as they tried to establish the post early in the game. Conceicao scored five quick points and Chandra Brown (Louisville, KY/Southeastern Illinois CC) accounted for the other two points.
Tech changed their defensive strategy to take away the post and offensively attacked the Redhawks post defense. A
10-3 Tech run gave the Golden Eaglettes a two-point lead, 12-10 at the 8:42 mark.
Redhawks guard Wanika Owsley (Indianapolis, IN/Southeastern Illinois CC) drained a three-pointer to give the Redhawks a 13-12 advantage and set in motion a first half that featured 11 lead changes and seven ties.
In a preview of what was to later come, Ryan drained a three-pointer with :27 seconds left in the first half to give the Redhawks a 30-29 advantage heading into the locker rooms.
Tech outshot the Redhawks 52-percent to 30-percent in the half, but the difference was three-point shooting as the Redhawks made more threes (6-2) than the Golden Eaglettes.
Ryan led all scorers at half with nine points.
In the second half the Redhawks seemed to have control of the tempo game. Everytime Tech made a run, the Redhawks countered with a huge three-pointer.
Tech grabbed their first lead of the second half at the 9:34 mark when Tynisha Alexander hit a three to make it 55-54 in favor of tech.
The Redhawks answered with an 8-1 run to make it 62-56 with 6:41 left.
Tech refused to lie down and again rallied, tying the game on two Jana Reece foul shots with 4:25.
The Redhawks again went on another run, this time a 6-0 run to give the Redhawks another six-point lead, 68-62 with 2:56 remaining.
The six-point lead tied the largest lead by any team in the game.
Tech went on a 6-0 run of themselves, capped by a lay-up by Marissa Hensley with 1:19 remaining to tie the game at 68 and setting up Ryan's last second heroics.
Ryan finished with a career-high 15 points on 5-11 shooting, including 5-9 from three-point range. She also grabbed four rebounds.
Conceicao was held to 13 points, but played a key role down the stretch while playing with four fouls.
Owsley tied her career-high with 11 points on 3-6 shooting (1-2 from three-point range). She pulled down four rebounds and dished out a game-high six points while committing zero turnovers.
Brown recorded a game-high 10 rebounds and missed her seventh double-double of the season by one point, scoring nine. She recorded two blocks to give her sole possession of the school's single season block record with 48 blocks. Brown also collected a game-high three steals.
The Redhawks shot only 35-percent in the game, but made up for the dismal shooting with a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line and 11 three-pointers on 32 attempts.
Rebounding played a huge role as well. The Redhawks out-rebounded Tech 39-36, including 12-3 on the offensive end.
Next for the Redhawks is the OVC Title game tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. against No. 1 seed and OVC regular season champions Eastern Kentucky. The game will be televised on CSTV and can be heard live on C-106 or live online at www.gosoutheast.com.
"Our goal all season was to make the NCAA Tournament and this win puts us just one win away," said Head Coach B.J. Smith. "This team has worked very hard to get to this point and I know they will compete hard tomorrow in the championship game."