Emily London's piece of the net is tied around her right wrist. Paige Anderson jokes her strand will be kept safe in jar. Savannah Hill expects hers will go into a scrapbook.
The Samford Bulldogs have reason to remember these souvenirs forever from a victory putting them into their first NCAA tournament.
Anderson hit a three-pointer with 18 seconds left that helped Samford make the NCAA Tournament for the first time, beating Appalachian State 57-54 to win the Southern Conference tournament on Monday in Chattanooga.
"I can't even describe it," said Samford senior Emily London, who starred in high school at Lexington Christian. "I'm sure all the other teams have worked hard, too. Speaking from my perspective, every single one of us has practiced so hard and worked in the offseason and just to be able for it to come down to this and we get a win to go to the NCAA ... That's just a great honor and an unbelievable feeling."
Mike Morris has been Samford's coach the last nine of the program's 14 seasons, and it's been a tough road moving through the Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley Conference before settling into the Southern Conference.
"I wish we could've skipped some steps in the past nine years, but it's been a gradual climb," Morris said. "It all starts with players and the right ones. They may not be the biggest or the fastest, but they are the right ones with their ability and their character."
Samford (25-7) will cap its best season with its second national post-season berth in school history. They went to the WNIT a year ago where they won a game.
But the NCAA Tournament is what Samford wanted, and the Bulldogs tapped into their experience having lost this game a year ago to pull out an improbable win in a game where they hit only four shots in the final 10 minutes — none bigger than Anderson's three.
Anderson finished with 14 points. Savannah Hill had 13 and London 12.
London, the nation's top free-throw shooter, missed a free throw with 29.2 seconds left with Samford trailing 54-52. After a scramble, Anderson hit her fourth three for the Bulldogs' first lead since 15-14. London credited the Bulldogs with not wanting to be swept by Appalachian State for a third game this season.
"I think just the last minute or so of the game, it all came down to heart, and it came down to who wanted it more. I think all five of us went at it, went hard and thank goodness for Paige and Shelby (Campbell) at the end knocking down shots and free throws," London said.
Western Ky. 55, Arkansas St. 47: Arnika Brown (Christian County) scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Lady Hilltoppers (15-16) advanced to the Sun Belt Conference championship game in Hot Springs, Ark.
Keisha Mosley came off the bench to add 13 points and 11 rebounds. Amy McNear had five points and eight assists.
Western Kentucky will play Arkansas-Little Rock in Tuesday's finals. WKU won the only regular-season meeting with the Trojan 66-64 on Feb. 16 in Little Rock.
No. 10 Notre Dame 71, No. 9 DePaul 67: Skylar Diggins scored 19 points to help Notre Dame beat DePaul in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament in Hartford, Conn. The Irish will face top-seeded Connecticut on Tuesday night for the championship in a rematch of the famous 2001 final in which Sue Bird hit a jumper at the buzzer for the Huskies.
Lexington Catholic grad Natalie Novosel had eight points and four assists for the Irish. Anna Martin, who starred at Lexington Christian, had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists for DePaul.
North Texas 81, Western Ky. 62: Tristan Thompson scored 28 points to lead North Texas past Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt tournament semifinals in Hot Springs, Ark. The Mean Green (22-10) will play either Middle Tennessee or Arkansas-Little Rock in Tuesday night's finals.
Juan Pattillo led the Hilltoppers (16-16) with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Western led 39-38 late in the first half, but North Texas went on a 12-2 run.
Knight out at Texas Tech
Texas Tech fired Pat Knight on Monday, ending a disappointing tenure for a coach who failed to lead the Red Raiders to the NCAA Tournament after taking over for his father in February 2008. He will coach the Red Raiders at this week's Big 12 tournament and then step down.
Knight said he was glad his dismissal came before the tournament because of all the potentially negative media chatter about a pending firing.
"It's not just negative toward us. It's negative to the university," Knight said. "It's not good, even for the guy that's following ... that's why I just told them, when they told me, 'You're not going to get another year,' let's just get it out there now. It worked out for the best."