ELITE EIGHT BOUND! GSW wins NCAA Southeast Regional

Published 2:49 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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SALISBURY, NC – The Georgia Southwestern State University Lady Hurricanes saw the realization of a dream unfold before their eyes as they lifted the NCAA Southeast Regional championship trophy following their 79-62 win over Carson-Newman on Monday night.

With that win, the Hurricanes advance to the NCAA Elite Eight in St. Joseph, MO., starting on March 25. GSW’s opponent will be announced by the NCAA after the eight teams are re-seeded for the finals.

GSW reaches the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The #5 seed in the region, the Lady Hurricanes defeated the #1, #2 and #4 seeds to claim the title and improve to 29-3 overall on the season.

The victory was not assured at all to begin the game, as the Lady Hurricanes were slow to get up to speed, missing their first four shots of the game and not scoring their first points until over four minutes had elapsed. Second-seeded Carson-Newman (24-10) took advantage, racing out to a 10-0 lead before Kori Tomlin‘s three-pointer put GSW on the scoreboard.

It turns out that was a harbinger of things to come.

GSW made three more three-pointers in the first quarter – all of their made field goals were from behind the arc – and then hit five of six three-pointers in the second quarter. After trailing 20-14 after one, GSW hit their first six shots in a row to start the second quarter, four of those three-pointers, and raced out to a 29-26 lead. The Lady Hurricanes shot 69% from the field in the quarter, 83% from long range with Ndidiamaka Ndukwe leading the way. The guard hit 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from long range. GSW outscored the Eagles 26-14 in the second and led 40-34 at the break.

The shooting percentages cooled slightly in the third quarter for GSW, who hit 57% of their shots. But it was their defense that came to the fore as they held CN to 6-for-21 shooting (.286) with no made three-pointers. Nevertheless, Carson-Newman cut the lead to four at 44-40 just minutes into the third on Lindsey Taylor’s two free throws. Another three-pointer from Ndukwe and a jumper from Lexi McCully boosted the lead back to nine and Carson-Newman would not get closer than seven for the remainder of the game.

Ndukwe finished with a team-high 21 points, hitting six of nine three-pointers. Lexi McCully added 13, both players coming off the bench. Destiny Garrett added 11 and seven rebounds. GSW finished the game shooting over 50% from the field and 53% from long range. They also held a 41-34 rebounding edge and outscored Carson-Newman 30-20 in the paint.