LAKELAND, FL - Florida Southern College women's basketball used a 35-point second quarter to run past Embry-Riddle, 87-68, in the championship game of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament on Sunday at Jenkins Field House. The Moccasins (25-4) punched their ticket to the NCAA Division II Tournament and avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Eagles (23-7).
The SSC Tournament title is the 11th in Florida Southern history and the first since 2011. It is the eighth time in program history that the Mocs have won both the conference regular-season and tournament titles in the same year. It was announced later on Sunday evening that Florida Southern had earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA South Regional, and will face No. 7 seed Valdosta State on Friday in the first round.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• The first quarter looked made it look as if it might be a close contest. Neither team was able to gain much of an edge in the first, but Camille Giardina hit a three-pointer with 3:47 to go to give Florida Southern an 11-10. It would prove to be the bucket that put the Mocs up for good as FSC took a 15-13 lead after one period of play.
• All the momentum ended up with the Moccasins in the second quarter, as Florida Southern outscored the Eagles 35-14 in the second quarter to put the game out of reach. Clinging to a one-point lead (17-16) with 9:05 to go in the second quarter, the Mocs reeled off an 11-0 run to grab a 28-16 lead when Jirah Ards hit a layup with 6:28 on the clock. After Embry-Riddle cut the deficit to eight (30-22) with just over four minutes to go in the first half, Florida Southern closed out the period on a 20-5 run to take a 50-27 lead into the locker room.
• The outcome was never in doubt in the second half as the Moccasins never saw their lead dip below double digits. Camille Giardina led all scorers with 33 points, while Anja Fuchs-Robetin finished with 28 and ripped down nine boards. The Mocs shot 61.4 percent (35-of-57) on the night and grabbed 28 rebounds to ERAU's 21. Marta Aranda provided a spark off the bench with eight points, while Elsa Landberg dished out four assists.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 47-25 all-time in the SSC Tournament and 5-3 all-time against Embry-Riddle. The Moccasins and Eagles had never faced each other in the conference tournament prior to Sunday's matchup, as this season was the first that ERAU was eligible to compete in postseason play at the NCAA Division II level after transitioning from the NAIA.
• The victory gave the Mocs an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, marking the 13th time that FSC has made the national tournament. It is the third year in a row that Florida Southern will compete in the NCAA Tournament.
• In the second quarter of Sunday's game, when the Mocs outscored ERAU 35-14, Florida Southern shot 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) from the floor. The Moccasins went 4-of-8 from long range in the second and did not commit a turnover while forcing six turnovers by the Eagles.
• Florida Southern earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA South Regional, and will face No. 7 Valdosta State on Friday in the first round. A tipoff time has yet to be determined. The winner of the South Regional will head to the Elite Eight in Sioux Falls, SD later this month.