SAN ANTONIO -- Nova Southeastern rallied from 13 points down at halftime, but Taylor Jones’ 20 points were not enough for the Sharks to close it out in an 80-76 overtime loss to Western Washington in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament on Tuesday at St. Mary’s University.
The unranked Sharks (23-9) forced Western Washington into 27 turnovers, but they were unable to hold on to two late leads and their season ends after their first appearance in the women’s Elite Eight.
“Literally, we were one possession away,” Sharks coach LeAnn Freeland said. “If there were another 15 seconds on the clock, we maybe would have finished the game.”
The fifth-ranked Vikings (29-3), who shot 68 percent in the first half and got 24 points and 10 rebounds from Britt Harris, have won 11 games in a row and will play the winner of the Ashland-Gannon contest played later Tuesday. The championship game is Friday.
Nova, which also got 18 points from Danielle Robinson, 16 from Amanda Burakoski and 15 from Meixandra Porter, would be there if not for losing two opportunities to close out the game.
The first came when Nova worked the shot clock down in the final minute of regulation. Freshman point guard Taylor Buie had the ball in her hands, but her three-point shot from past the top of the key fell far short and gave Western the ball with 32.7 seconds left in regulation.
Western set it up for Corinn Waltrip, who made a running 10-footer to tie the game with 7.6 seconds to go. Waltrip shot 8 for 11, and her teammate Harris was 9 for 12.
Nova brought the ball immediately up the floor and got a driving shot from Porter that missed with three seconds left. Burakoski got the long rebound, but her off-balance shot from just inside the free-throw line wasn’t close.
But the backbreaker came in overtime after Jones’ layup with a minute and a half to go gave Nova a 74-72 lead. Harris scored for Western on a layup to tie it and, after Jones missed a jumper, she scored again after she wrestled away a loose ball under the basket.
Harris had been playing with four fouls since 8 1/2 minutes were left in regulation, but it was Jones who picked up her fifth foul on the play. Harris made the free throw and Western went up 77-74 with 31 seconds left in OT.
Jessica Russi cut the Vikings’ lead to two with 10 seconds left on a layup. But the Sharks could not get any closer.
“Me going down [on fouls] didn’t mean anything,” Jones said. “Everyone stepped up tonight.”