BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The 14th-ranked Benedict College Lady Tigers used a 17-4 run in the second quarter to pull away from Kentucky State and captured the 2016 SIAC Women's Basketball Championship with a 74-52 victory on Saturday in the Bill Harris Arena.
"We worked hard all year long," said Benedict coach James Rice, who guided the Lady Tigers to their second SIAC championship in three years. "Defensively, that's where we hang our hats. Our defense got us back in the game. I thought how we took control of the game was defensively."
Benedict held Kentucky State to 34.8 percent shooting for the game, and just 30.43 percent in the first half.
KaDeeja Vaughn led Benedict with a game-high 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Regime McCombs scored 18 points and connected on four 3-pointers. Terri Jacobs, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, added nine points, six rebounds and a blocked shot.
The win improves Benedict to 27-2 on the season. One of their two regular-season losses came on the road at Kentucky State in December in their only meeting this season. The Thorobrettes won on a buzzer-beating shot. Rice said that loss stung and was secretly looking forward to a rematch.
"The first time we played them, it was the fourth game of a tough, long road trip, and it just so happened that we had Kentucky State last," Rice said. "They played well enough to win the game and we lost it at the end at the buzzer. It always stuck in our head that we wanted to see them again so we could get that payback."
The Lady Tigers had a 32-22 lead at the half, and went on another big run in the third quarter to eventually take a 52-31 lead on a layup by Vaughn with 1:19 left in the period. Kentucky State never got closer than 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Benedict secures the automatic bid from the SIAC into the NCAA Division II women's basketball tournament. Benedict was second in the latest region rankings behind Union University. Union lost in the Gulf South Conference championship game to Delta State on Saturday. The NCAA selection show will air Sunday night at 10 p.m. on www.ncaa.com
Kentucky State will await word on a possible at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Lady Thorobrettes fell to 24-4. Logan Powell led KSU with 12 points, while Taylor Sanders added 11.
Benedict once again used its strong inside game to take charge of the game. The Lady Tigers out-rebounded Kentucky State 44-23 and had a 15-7 advantage in second-chance points. Benedict also outscored Kentucky State 34-20 in the paint.