The game went to overtime tied at 60-60 and the Spartans came out ready to play as they stopped the first four Rollins possessions while scoring the first six points of the half on a jumper by Lake Mary’s Alexa Kane and free throws by DeShaydia Mackey and Sheena Walton. Rollins proceeded to go on a 6-0 run of their own beginning at the 2:36 mark and ending with a game-tying three-pointer by Jennifer Musgrove with 15 seconds on the clock.
With the final possession of overtime, Tampa head coach Tom Jessee used a 30-second timeout to script a play with nine-seconds remaining. The Spartans chose Mackey as the beneficiary as she drove to the basket, connecting on a game-winning bank shot as time expired.
Kane, the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, was one of a group of Spartans to have a career performance as she netted a new career high of 21 points on 9-13 shooting. She also added eight rebounds, two assists and three steals while joining Mackey as the lone Spartans to play all 45 minutes.
With the victory, Tampa will make its fifth NCAA tournament appearance and has now made the tourney in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. The NCAA South Regional will be hosted by undefeated and No. 1 nationally-ranked Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers beginning today (Saturday).
Kane, who finished second in the SSC in assists this season, was not the only ex-Ram on the Spartans as freshman Angela Guiu was the starting point guard for Tampa and hit a pair of three-pointers to finish with six points.
Rollins, which will also be in the South Regional, also has a local flavor as former All Souls standout Jessica Pressley is a freshman on the Tars squad and scored two points in Sunday’s contest.