Courtesy of Benedict Athletics
ROCK HILL, S.C. – The Benedict College Lady Tigers rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat 12th-ranked Savannah State University and repeat as SIAC Champions on Saturday in the Rock Hill Sports & Events Center.
The win gives Benedict, now 23-7 on the season, an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Tournament. The selection show will be Sunday night at 10 p.m. on www.ncaa.com.
The Lady Tigers trailed 61-51 with 7:45 to play in the game. Benedict went on a 14-2 run over the next five minutes to take the lead, with Ay’Anna Bey putting Benedict ahead on a jumper with 2:29 on the clock.
“We were only down 10. That was nothing,” said Benedict head coach James Rice. “We stayed the course. These young ladies didn’t fold.”
Savannah State, now 27-2 overall with both losses coming at the hands of Benedict, tied the game at 67 with 45 seconds remaining. Camryn Bostick, named to the SIAC All-Tournament team, scored with 19 seconds left to give Benedict a 69-67 lead. Savannah State missed a shot and Wykira Johnson-Kelly sank a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining for a four-point advantage. Savannah State scored at the buzzer for the final score.
Bostick led Benedict with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Keondra Archie, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, added 14 points, 12 of those coming in the second half to help ignite Benedict’s comeback.
“My teammates needed me, so I stepped up,” Archie said.
Ay’Anna Bey also scored 14 points, with six coming in the key fourth-quarter run. Shanassia White was also in double figures with 10 points. Johnson-Kelly had eight points and eight assists to go along with a pair of steals and six rebounds.
Benedict had a four-point lead, 16-12, at the end of the first quarter. Savannah State rallied in the second quarter to take a 36-26 lead at the break. Savannah State still carried a 53-46 lead heading into the final quarter.
Benedict won the 2020 SIAC Championship, and was set to play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before the championship was cancelled due to Covid. The SIAC did not play a conference schedule or conference tournament last year due to Covid, as well.