SIOUX FALLS, SD – Sixth-ranked University of Alaska Anchorage took advantage of a cold shooting performance by Francis Marion University to claim a 79-55 win over the Patriots, Tuesday night (March 22) in the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament.
The defeat ends a magical run for the FMU women, who sat on the bubble to make the tournament and then swept through the Southeast Regional as the seventh seed. Under the direction of first-year head coach Jeri Porter, Francis Marion's 24-9 record represents the most wins for the program in six seasons, and the Elite Eight appearance was only the second ever for the program since moving to NCAA affiliation in 1992.
Francis Marion was led by 5-8 sophomore forward Briana Burgins who scored a career-high 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting. The High Point, N.C., native also shot 9-of-10 from the foul line and grabbed four rebounds. Burgins was coming off a Most Outstanding Player performance in the regional where she posted a pair of double-doubles.
FMU senior guard Camille Dash added eight points, six rebounds, five assists, and four steals in her final collegiate game. The lone four-year senior on the squad, the Savannah, Ga., native ends her time at FMU with 872 points in 112 contests.
The Patriots managed only 30.8 percent shooting, the team's third-worst figure of the season. UAA in contrast connected on 51.6 percent of its field goal attempts.
The 37-2 Seawolves were led by Jessica Madison with 15 points, while Alysha Devine added 12 points, and All-American forward Megan Mullings 11 points and nine rebounds.
Francis Marion led during the opening few minutes, and trailed only 12-10 with 3:45 left in the first period. Burgins accounted for 10 of FMU's first 12 points. The Seawolves closed the quarter with a 10-4 spurt to assume a 22-14 advantage.
The margin quickly ballooned to 18 points (32-14) as UAA scored the opening 10 points of the second quarter. The Patriots gradually crept back into the contest, trailing by only seven points at 34-27 after a three-point play by Dash and 36-29 following a fast-break lay-in by freshman Shaunice Fulmore with 22 ticks left in the first half.
Alaska Anchorage answered Fulmore's layup with one of its own to lead 38-29 at intermission.
A pair of charity tosses by Burgins cut the deficit to 42-33 with 7:24 left on the clock in the third quarter, but the Seawolves scored three straight buckets to lead 48-33 and the lead would remain in double digits for the rest of the game. An inside hoop by Burgins trimmed the lead to 48-37 with 3:41 remaining in the period, but that was as close as the Patriots would get. UAA led 60-44 after three quarters.
Alaska Anchorage advances to face the Pittsburg State/Grand Valley State winner in Wednesday night's second semifinal game.
FMU finished the night only 1-of-14 from three-point territory, but was 14-of-18 at the free throw line. UAA hit half of its 14 three-point attempts and was 8-of-12 at the stripe. The Patriots forced 16 turnovers, while committing 18 themselves. UAA led the rebounding battle 41-34 and held a 44-22 advantage in points-in-the-paint.
FMU's other senior, forward Alaysia Watts, chipped in five points and three steals.