GREENVILLE, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – The Wingate University Bulldogs captured the 2017 South Atlantic Conference Women's Basketball Championship, Saturday afternoon in Greenville, S.C. knocking off the top-seeded Lincoln Memorial University Railsplitters by a final of 81-61, while Danasia Witherspoon claimed tournament honors.
The Bulldogs finished the afternoon shooting an impressive 50 percent from the floor and 57 percent from behind the three-point arc as Kristina Rumplasch added a game-high 21 points and five rebounds, shooting 7-10 from the floor and 1-1 from three-point range. Witherspoon collected 18 points and seven rebounds, while Marta Miscenko finished with a team-high 11 rebounds and 10 points.
The Railsplitters finished with three players in double-digit scoring figures as Josey Harding added a team-high 15 points and a game-high 16 rebounds in route to all-tournament honors. Emily Griffith and Shea Coker each added 11 points, apiece, while Karsen Kims collected a team-high three assists and eight points.
In a game that featured 57 total fouls and four players fouling, the Bulldogs would finish with a 38-11 scoring advantage off the bench, while their 34-16 points in the paint edge added their championship title run.
Following a Megan Pittman three-point basket to open the afternoons scoring, the Bulldogs would take a 9-6 lead with 5:29 remaining in the opening frame. Lincoln Memorial tied the contest at 10-10 on a layup by Harding and jumper by Sims, however, Wingate would use a 6-2 run over the final four minutes to take a 16-12 lead into the second quarter.
Wingate would add to their lead to open the second quarter as the Bulldogs would lead by as many as 12 points midway through the quarter, before Lincoln Memorials Shayla Barrow found the bottom of the net on a mid range jumper and Sims hit a step back jumper from the right wing, while a three-pointer from Griffith trimmed the Wingate lead down to eight points.
The Bulldogs would take a 37-24 lead into halftime, benefiting from a shooting percent of 54 percent for the first half and 67 percent from three-point range.
Wingate would come out of the first half scorching hot, as the Bulldogs managed to increase their lead to as many as 24 points, before Lincoln Memorial managed to battle back and cut the Bulldogs lead to 16 points with 15 seconds remaining in the third stanza, giving the Bulldogs a 57-41 lead heading into the final quarter.
Coming out of the between quarter intermission, the Bulldogs would push their lead back to 20 points, benefitting from a 8-4 lead to open the final quarter of championship play.
The top-seeded Railsplitters would not go quietly as Harding took over in the fourth quarter, willing her team back within 15-points of the Bulldogs with 4:20 remaining in regulation.
However, Wingate would push their lead back to over 20-points over the final four minutes, taking the 81-61 championship victory and earning an automatic bid to the 2017 Southeast Regional Tournament.
As part of the 2017 SAC Championship event, league officials announced the all-tournament team comprised of Lincoln Memorials Josey Harding and Emily Griffith and Wingate's Marta Miscenko, Caroline Averette and tournament Most Valuable Player.
2017 All-Tournament Team
Danasia Witherspoon, Wingate (MVP)
Caroline Averette, Wingate
Marta Miscenko, Wingate
Josey Harding, Lincoln Memorial
Emily Griffith, Lincoln Memorial