Kean Falls Short of Final Four Dreams

  Kean Falls Short of Final Four Berth

UNION, N.J. (3/15/08) - Junior guard Anna Findley (Hiram, Ga.) scored 44 points, including 28 in the second half, to lead the Oglethorpe University women's basketball team to a 98-86 victory over host Kean University and advance to its first ever NCAA Division III Final Four appearance.

Findley hit 8-of-10 shots from three-point range, including 5-of-6 in the second half, as the Stormy Petrels (27-5) connected on 56.7 percent (17-of-30) of their shots in the final 20 minutes and 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from long range in the NCAA Sectional Finals.  Findley's 44 points are tied for the third highest total in all NCAA Division III women's basketball this season, while the 98 points scored by Oglethorpe was the most points Kean allowed all season. 

The Cougars (28-4) close out the season in the Elite Eight for the second straight year, as they finish with a school record 28 wins and just the third appearance in the Elite Eight in school history.  Junior guard Melissa Beyruti (Union City, N.J.) (pictured right) had 25 points, and senior center Chari' Cooper (Paulsboro, N.J.) closed out her career with her 58th career double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

After the Cougars extended a two-point halftime lead to six points (48-42) just 61 seconds into the second half, Oglethorpe went on a 10-2 run to take the lead for good on a three-pointer by Findley with 16:47 left on the clock. 

The Stormy Petrels pushed the lead out to eight points (61-53) just two minutes later and would extend the lead out to 12 points on another three-pointer by Findley to lead 76-64 with just 8:54 remaining. 

Kean responded with a 9-1 run, cutting the deficit to four points at 77-73 following back-to-back three-pointers by Beyruti with 5:17 left in the game.  Oglethorpe junior guard Tina Grace (Pensacola, Fla.) answered with a three-pointer to extend the lead back to seven points and the Stormy Petrels led by as many as 13 points with 2:25 remaining. 

The Cougars cut the lead back to single digits on three more occasions, however Oglethorpe hit 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute to punch its ticket to the Final Four.

In a first half that featured five ties and four lead changes, the Stormy Petrels took an early eight point lead (18-10, 14:05), before Kean battled back and took a 44-42 lead into halftime.  Findley led all scorers with 16 points, while Beyruti had 13 points and freshman forward Tiffany Patrick (Piscataway, N.J.) had 10 points and seven rebounds to lead Kean. 

In her final intercollegiate game, Cooper (pictured left) hit 8-of-10 shots from the floor en-route to a season-high 20 points.  She closed out her career with 1,231 career points and a school-record 1,519 career rebounds, the third highest total in NCAA Division III career rebounding history and tied for 10th among all-divisions in NCAA history. 

Beyruti knocked down five three points, giving her 108 for the season and 281 in her career, ranking seventh in NCAA DIII single season and 14th in NCAA DIII career history, respectively. 

Patrick finished with her fourth double-double in the last five games, as she had 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.  Sophomore guard Cardiss Jackman (Tobyhanna, Pa.) added 11 points and five rebounds, while junior guard Ebony Jackson (Newark, N.J.) rounded out Kean in double-figures, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. 

For Oglethorpe, junior guard Katie Kulavic (Norcross, Ga.) and Grace each finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Kulavic added e team-high six assists and Grace added five assists.  Junior guard Hannah Brooks (Rockmart, Ga.) added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.