FRANKFORT — Shawnee State overcame an early 14-point deficit Sunday and went on to edge third-ranked Campbellsville 74-67 in overtime in the finals of the women's Mid-South Conference Tournament.
By winning their first MSC tourney title, the 19th-ranked Bears earned an automatic berth in the NAIA national tournament.
"I thought our defense was really good," winning coach Jeff Nickel said while his players cut down the nets in the Frankfort Convention Center. "I thought we played really good 'help.' We did a really good job for the most part of the game of rebounding the ball, and that got us some points, got us running in transition a few times. And our freshman really stepped up big."
Ashley McMurtrey, a 5-foot-10 freshman out of Oldham County, led the charge with a game-high 26 points. Shavon Robinson, a senior, added 19 points and nine rebounds for Shawnee (24-9). Ali Zieverink, a junior and the MSC Player of the Year, had 18 points.
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Campbellsville (29-3), which swept a pair of regular-season games from the Bears, was led by Lindsey Burd with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Madison Clements added 20 points, while Caroline Owen had 12.
Owen got hammered on a three-point attempt late in regulation, a no-call that didn't set well with Tigers Coach Ginger Colvin.
"If that had been called, I don't think we would have made it to overtime," Colvin said. "I thought my kids battled really, really hard. But down the stretch we did everything we wanted to do. We kind of picked our poison. They don't have the great depth — they've got a really, really good team, and we felt like maybe their legs would get a little tired late. But they knocked down some big threes late."
Campbellsville had a chance to win in regulation, but Owen's shot from the left elbow hit off the rim just before the buzzer sounded.
In overtime, Shawnee scored the first eight points on a low-post move by Zieverink, fast-break buckets by McMurtrey and Robinson, plus a drive through traffic by McMurtrey.
"I kind of wanted Freshman of the Year, but that didn't happen," McMurtrey said. "So I just wanted to show everybody who the real Freshman of the Year was."
Campbellsville never came closer than four points from there.