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Edward Waters Captures the FSC Women's Basketball Tournament Crown and Trip to NAIA DII Nationals

February 24, 2007

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Tournament MVP Ruth Waters provided the offense with 21 points in 40 minutes of action and fellow All-Tournament team member Antoinette Upshaw provided the defense with 21 rebounds (14 defensive) and six blocked shots to help fifth-seeded Edward Waters College post a 59-54 victory against third-seeded Webber International University in the Florida Sun Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Championship Saturday afternoon.

Webber International swept the regular-season series 68-59 at EWC and 58-54 in Babson Park. However, the Warriors learned the difficulty of beating a team three times in one season.

Edward Waters, which had lost four straight games before closing out the year with a victory at Warner Southern, peaked at the right time winning its last four contests (three in the FSC tounament). By virtue of the title victory, Edward Waters (9-14) earned the automatic qualifier to the 16th Annual NAIA DII Women's Basketball National Tournament which will be held March 7-13 at the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena in Sioux City, Iowa.

Both teams came out a little tight and it certainly showed as the two squads combined for 13 missed shots in the first three minutes of the contest and the erratic shooting continued throughout the first half. WIU (13-14) shot an enemic 17.1 percent from the field (6-for-35 and 0-for-5 from three-point land), while EWC wasn't much better converting 27.8 percent of its attempts from the floor (10-for-36), but were 3-for-7 from downtown. This edge from beyond the arc was sparked by Waters who hit two of EWC's long-range buckets and finished the first half with 16 of her game-high 21 points helping the Tigers gain the upperhand at the intermission 29-19.

Edward Waters opened the second half with a strong surge buildng its largest lead of the game at 43-27 with 12:32 remaining in the game. However, WIU went on a 10-2 run over the next five minutes cutting the lead to single-digits for only the second time in the second half. The Webber run was sparked by much better shooting converting 48.1 percent from the floor (13-for-27) and 57.1 percent from three-point range (4-for-7).

EWC regained a double-digit advantage and looked as though it would close out the game leading 51-41 with 4:38 to go, but the Warriors battled back once again with a 6-0 run in just over a minute on the strengths of All-Tournament selections Jardee Robinson and Ashley Gabbert. Robinson connected from beyond the arc and Gabbert hit a jumper to pull within 51-47 at the 3:09 mark. Robinson finished with 15 points and 10 boards, while Gabbert added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

On the next possession, Webber did it's job defensively forcing a three-point miss by Teyaqua Gunn, but Upshaw was there to clean off the offensive glass with one of her 21 rebounds in the game and Waters delivered with a jumper to make it a two-possession game 53-47.

Trailing 53-49 with 1:45 to go, the WIU defense forced another long-range miss, this time by Waters, but once again the Tigers beat Webber to the glass and All-Tourney team member Aisha Thornton grabbed the board and connected on the put-back to reclaim the six-point advantage 55-49 with 1:17 left.

Down 55-51, Webber had another chance to trim the lead, but following a missed one-and-one attempt by the Tigers' Erika Golding, Robinson turned the ball over to Golding who made up for the miss with a steal and Thornton finished off the transition opportunity with a layup. Thornton finished with 14 points (four in the last 1:17 of the game) and 16 rebounds in 40 minutes of action.

Samantha Moore made it a one-possession game after connecting from downtown with 16 ticks left, but Golding hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to gain the all-important four-point advantage and on the next trip down the floor, the Warriors' Gabbert missed a driving layup to virtually seal the victory for Edward Waters.