Grant's Heroics Keep CAA Women's Basketball Crown In Norfolk For 14th Straight Year
By ODU Athletics
March 12, 2005
Fairfax, Va. - Old Dominion University's Shareese Grant scored 15 of the Lady Monarchs' final 18 points to net a career-high 35 points and was named tournament Most Outstanding Performer for the third year in a row to lead #2-seed ODU to a thrilling 78-74 come-from-behind victory over top-seed Delaware in the only overtime game ever played in the conference finals. The Lady Monarchs claimed their NCAA record 14th consecutive conference crown with the win.
"It was an awesome battle," said ODU head coach Wendy Larry. "It was a situation where you have to have a tremendous gut-check at the end of the game. We accomplished the feat and Shareese [Grant] brought us home. We always talked about inviting ourselves to the NCAA Tournament. Now, we don't have to worry."
Old Dominion (22-8) receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Delaware (25-5) will hope for an at-large bid to the tournament after a historic season. The tournament field will be announced tomorrow at 4 p.m. live on ESPN.
Grant, a senior guard from Virginia Beach, Va., hit four straight jump shots in a span of two minutes to give the Lady Monarchs a 66-64 lead with 1:20 remaining in regulation. Delaware sophomore guard Tyresa Smith converted a three-point play to give the Blue Hens a 67-66 advantage with :57 to play. Smith added another free throw at :38 as UD took a 68-66 lead. Grant countered with a baseline jumper to tie it with :13 remaining and Delaware was unable to get off a shot sending the game into overtime for the first time in CAA Championship history.
Delaware senior forward Tiffany Young opened the scoring in overtime as she was fouled and hit a layup at the 3:50 mark. She converted the free throw to make it 71-68. ODU freshman guard TJ Jordan quickly responded five seconds later as she connected on a three-pointer from the top of the key, her third trey of the game, to knot the score at 71-71.
Young connected on 1-of-2 free throws with 2:44 left to give the Blue Hens a 72-71 lead. Grant answered with another jump shot and 1-of-2 free throws with 1:59 to go as ODU took a 74-72 lead.
Smith hit the second of two foul shots with 1:32 left to cut the ODU margin to 74-73. Freshman forward Shahida Williams, a 48 percent free throw shooter coming into the game, went to the line with 1:23 left and made both free throws as ODU increased its lead to three points.
Delaware's Tiara Malcom, the CAA Player of the Year, made 1-of-2 free throws with :37 to go in the extra session to cut the ODU lead to 76-74. Malcom became the CAA's all-time leader in free throws made (531) as she went 13-of-16 from the line.
Smith stole the ball from ODU sophomore forward Tish Lyons with :10 on the clock. Grant, a CAA All-Defensive team selection, made a steal deep in the Blue Hens' frontcourt and went in for an uncontested score to clinch the victory for ODU.
Grant, who shot a scorching 15-of-19 from the field, added a team-high seven assists. After scoring just six points at the half, she went for 29 in the second half and overtime to lead the Lady Monarch charge. Jordan had 11 points and freshman center Tiffany Green added nine points and seven rebounds.
Delaware was led by Young's career-high of 23 points and nine rebounds. Malcom added 19 points and Smith 18.
Old Dominion out-rebounded Delaware 43-38 but the Blue Hens held an advantage at the line, as UD hit 29-of-40 free throws while ODU made 11-of-19. The Blue Hens led by as many as 11 points in the first half and took a 35-28 advantage into intermission. UD maintained its lead until late in the second half when Tiffany Green knotted the score at 58-58 with 5:19 remaining. There were four ties in the final 3:21 of regulation play. Smith converted the first of two free throw with :38 remaining to give the top-seed a 68-66 advantage. After a miss on the back end and a timeout by ODU, the Lady Monarchs got the tying basket at :13 to force the game into overtime.
ODU avenged two earlier losses to Delaware in the regular season. The Lady Monarchs also beat Delaware in last year's semifinals as well as in the 2003 finals. ODU has compiled a 41-0 record in CAA Tournament competition since joining the league in 1991-92.
Most Outstanding Performer
Shareese Grant, Old Dominion