As the host and top seed of the NCAA Division II South Region tournament, the expectations could not have been higher for the Nova Southeastern women’s basketball team.
The Sharks cruised past the Clark Atlanta Lady Panthers in a 87-60 rout on Friday night at Nova Southeastern’s Don Taft University Center. It is Nova’s first NCAA Division II Tournament game victory.
“It was really important for our team to stay alive after today,” Sharks coach LeAnn Freeland said. “Our ladies have been waiting for this opportunity all season and it was clear that they were mentally prepared for it.”
Leading the way
Guard Tailor Jones and forward Richelle Carach picked up double-doubles for the Sharks. Jones scored 14 points and picked up 10 rebounds, and Carach got 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Three other Nova players scored in double digits, with guards Danielle Robinson (18), Meixandra Porter (19) and Taylor Buie (16) adding to the offensive onslaught.
With the victory, No.1-seed Nova advances to the second round Saturday at 7:30 p.m..
The Sharks got off to a fast start, with Robinson providing the opening spark, drilling her first shot taken from beyond the arc and scoring seven of the Sharks’ first 15 points.
Poor shooting doomed Clark Atlanta throughout the contest, finishing the game with 35 percent from the field and missing eight three-pointers attempted in the first half.
The Sharks steadily built a comfortable lead, attacking the basket and doing most of their damage from inside the paint.
“Being aggressive is part of who we are,” Porter said of the team’s fast start. “That’s when we find our flow and work best as a team.”
Robinson ended the first half with an exclamation point, draining a jumper from just inside the arc as the buzzer sounded, giving the Sharks a comfortable 20-point cushion heading into the locker room.
After a sluggish start to the second half, the Sharks quickly recovered and went on an 16-2 run and took a 39-point lead at one point to douse any hope of a Lady Panther comeback.