FT. LAUDERDALE, FL - Camille Giardina's three-point play with 18 seconds left in regulation capped off a dramatic 61-60 win over Eckerd as Florida Southern College women's basketball captured is second-straight Sunshine State Conference Tournament title on Sunday at Rick Case Arena. The No. 17 Moccasins (28-3) trailed the Tritons (22-9) by two points in the closing moments, but Giardina hit a beautiful fadeaway jumper, was fouled and hit the ensuing free throw to give the Mocs a 61-60 lead.
Eckerd nearly put in the game-winner just before the buzzer, but Zoe Richards missed two point-blank shots and Julia Jenike corralled the final rebound to give Southern its 12th SSC Tournament victory. The Mocs are expected to be the No. 1 seed in the South Region when the NCAA releases its Division II tournament field tonight at 10 p.m. live at NCAA.com. A No. 1 seed in the South Region would ensure the Moccasins of hosting the regional tournament for the first time since 1995.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- 1st Quarter | In what was undoubtedly the most competitive game of the year for Florida Southern, the Mocs jumped out to an early 5-0 lead before the Tritons stormed back to take a 7-6 edge with 5:37 to go in the first quarter. That would be the theme of the day as the game saw six ties and 12 lead changes. Neither team really got on track offensively in the early going, but Florida Southern led by one (14-13) at the end of the first.
- 2nd Quarter | The second quarter saw Eckerd grab a four-point lead (23-19) with 5:11 to go in the first half. The Mocs were able to mount a 9-2 run over the final five minutes of the second quarter and led 28-25 at the half.
- 3rd Quarter | Florida Southern looked as if it may have put the game out of reach when it pushed its lead to 10 points (40-30) with 5:40 to go in the third quarter, but Eckerd rallied with several buckets in the final minute of the third to make it 50-46 with one quarter to play.
- 4th Quarter | In the fourth quarter, the Tritons jumped on top by three (55-52) with 6:29 to play and held a 60-58 lead when Richards a layup with 37 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Giardina brought the ball up the floor, drove to her right, and hit a fadeaway jumper while drawing a foul. She stepped to the line and calmly hit the go-ahead free throw to make it 61-60 with 18 seconds to go. With a chance to win Richards missed a wide open layup five seconds to play, but the Tritons got new life when the Mocs traveled on the defensive rebound. Richards would have one more chance to win the game with 1.1 seconds left but was unable to get a clean look and the Mocs hung on to win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Florida Southern won its 12th SSC Tournament title and captured its first back-to-back championships for the first time since winning in 1995 and 1996. The Mocs have now won back-to-back SSC Tournament titles a total of nine times.
- Giardina, who scored 22 points on Sunday, was named as the SSC Tournament MVP for the second-straight year, while Anja Fuchs-Robetin and Julia Jenike were named to the all-tournament team.
- The Mocs tied a program record for wins in a single season, matching the 1994-95 squad with 28 wins.
- Florida Southern will find out tonight whether or not it will host the NCAA South Regional. The Mocs were No. 1 in the most recent South Region rankings, and are expected to host the regional tournament for the first time since 1995. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air tonight at 10 p.m. at NCAA.com.