March 21, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — On the big stage for the first time, Arkansas-Little Rock looked like an NCAA tournament veteran.
Kim Sitzmann scored a season-high 21 points–all but three in the first half–and 11th-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock won in its NCAA tournament debut, stunning No. 6 seed Georgia Tech 63-53 on Sunday night.
Arkansas-Little Rock (27-6) was so unsure of making the 64-team tournament field that it didn’t hold a formal viewing party last Monday. The Trojans, who had a 21-game winning streak snapped in the Sun Belt Conference tournament title game, received one of the last at-large bids.
Brigitte Ardossi scored 26 points for Georgia Tech (23-10), which fell to 2-6 all-time in NCAA tournament play.
Georgia Tech jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but quickly fell behind the smaller, speedier Trojans even though UALR’s leading scorer Chastity Reed had only 14 points–11 below her average.
UALR will play third-seeded Oklahoma or 14th-seeded South Dakota State on Tuesday.
Women’s basketball long seemed an afterthought at Arkansas-Little Rock, which never had a winning record until the 2006-07 season and went without a program from 1988 to 1999. Coach Joe Foley, who had won two NAIA titles at Arkansas Tech, became the Trojans’ coach before the 2003-04 season and steadily built the program into a winner.
Georgia Tech’s size advantage and full-court pressure gave the Trojans trouble early. The Yellow Jackets scored the first six points and UALR didn’t score its first basket for almost four minutes–a 3-pointer by Sitzmann.
But the speedier Trojans soon started breaking the press with long passes and layups. An 8-0 run by UALR put the Trojans ahead 14-11. Georgia Tech briefly regained the lead at 15-14 on a basket by Ardossi, but Sitzmann answered with another 3-pointer to put the Trojans back ahead.
Even with Reed on the bench with two fouls, UALR held onto the lead. Sitzmann’s fourth 3-pointer of the half came right before the halftime buzzer and gave the Trojans their biggest bulge at 35-26.
Georgia Tech scored only four points in the first 11 minutes of the second half as UALR extended its lead to 49-30.
The Trojans eventually led 52-32 with 7:48 left before Georgia Tech scored 11 in a row to cut the gap to nine with 4:08 left on a put-back basket by Deja Foster, but Shanika Butler went coast-to-coast for a layup, was fouled by Jasmine Blain and made the free throw. UALR went 8 of 10 from the line in the final 1:40 to seal the win.
Ardossi’s final basket gave her 1,001 points in her career.