Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Local players to compete in D-II Final Four

Need a women's basketball fix during this break between NCAA Division I tournament games? Try Wednesday's Division II national semifinals, where a pair of former Hampton Roads high school stars, Brittney Spencer and Janelle Harrison, will try to help extend Shaw's unlikely run to a D-II title.

Harrison, a 5-7 senior from Chesapeake's Western Branch High, and Spencer, a 5-6 junior from Ocean Lakes High in Virginia Beach, will join the Lady Bears (25-11) in the program's first-ever Final Four appearance Wednesday against Clayton State (33-1) at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

Michigan Tech (30-2) and Northwest Missouri State (29-4) will play in the other semifinal at 9:30 p.m. and will also air on ESPNU. The title game is set for Friday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

The Lady Bears advanced to tonight's semifinal in thrilling fashion Tuesday, as Brittany Ransom's layup a split-second before the buzzer lifted Shaw past Metro State 46-45. Spencer set up the game-winning score by threading a halfcourt pass between two defenders and into Ransom's hands in front of the rim.

A little over a month ago, Shaw's record stood at just 14-11. But they haven't lost since, fashioning a run that has including the program's sixth CIAA title and four NCAA Tournament victories. The Lady Bears will take an 11-game winning streak into Wednesday's national semifinal.

Shaw is coached by Jacques Curtis, a man who - get this, Virginia Tech fans - spent 10 years as a men's assistant and two more as a men's head coach before coaching women for the first time when he took over the Shaw program in 2000. Seems to be working out - in addition to the 6 CIAA titles, Curtis has guided the Lady Bears to 5 NCAA Tournament appearances, three Elite Eight showings and now, the Final Four.

The school is clearly proud of the coach and the program, and isn't bashful about letting the world know it. Check out the first two lines of Curtis' bio on the school's website:

The incomparable Jacques Curtis, head coach of the Shaw University Lady Bears basketball team, starts his eleventh year at one of the nation's most successful programs. This legacy has been built tirelessly, diligently and successfully by Curtis, his staff, and the many student-athletes who have been fortunate enough to don the garnet and white jerseys of the Lady Bears.

Guess it ain't braggin' if you can back it up.

Harrison was a two-time team MVP at Western Branch who began her college career at Louisburg College. Spencer, who averaged 16 points and 6 assists as a senior at Ocean Lakes, came to Shaw after a stint at Appalachian State.

No comments:

Post a Comment