Plenty of Stiles
SMS defeats Rutgers 60-53, advances to Sweet Sixteen
Updated: Tuesday March 20, 2001 11:32 AM
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Single-handedly leading Southwest Missouri State past Rutgers in the NCAA Tournament is just what one would expect from Jackie Stiles, the NCAA women's career scoring leader.
But doing it two days after sustaining a mild concussion? Now that's impressive.
Stiles scored 17 of her 32 points in the final 6:57 and Southwest Missouri State ended Rutgers' bid for a second straight Final Four berth by beating the Scarlet Knights 60-53 in the second round of the West Regional.
"This is your senior year and you go for it with everything you got," said Stiles, who missed the final 10 minutes of Saturday night's first-round win over Toledo after being knocked woozy running into a pick.
"My athletic training staff and the doctors traveling with us did a great job of getting me healthy for this game."
As soon as Stiles finished the sentence, Southwest Missouri head coach Cheryl Burnett quipped, "She plays like this, we're going to knock her in the head again."
The victory was the eighth consecutive for the fifth-seeded Lady Bears (27-5), who will play top-seeded Duke in the West Regional semifinal at Spokane, Wash., on Saturday. The Blue Devils beat Arkansas 75-54 on Monday.
Fourth-seeded Rutgers, which had made at least the round of 16 the last three years, finished 23-8 after losing at home for the first time in 14 games this season.
"I'm in shock," senior Linda Miles said. "We had the opportunities. I just can't believe we didn't execute. I'm just frustrated because we had the opportunities."
Stiles was the main reason Rutgers fell a game short this season, scoring the final eight points for the Lady Bears. The senior guard hit 8-of-16 from the field and 16-of-19 from the foul line in sending Southwest Missouri State to the round of 16 for the first time since 1993.
"My hats off to Jackie Stiles," Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "She is the hardest working player. She deserves all the credit and all the respect. She is a WNBA player. I would love to have her as a professional coach."
No other player scored in double figures for Southwest Missouri State, although Carly Deer hit two go-ahead free throws and Melody Campbell added a key baseline jumper for a 49-45 lead with 2:25 to play.
Tasha Pointer had 15 points for Rutgers, but the senior point guard had a crucial turnover with about 12 seconds left and the Scarlet Knights down 56-53.
"I was hit and then it went off my foot," said Pointer, who kept Rutgers in the game until the late mistake.
Karlita Washington added 12 points, Davalyn Cunningham 11 and Miles 10 for Rutgers.
Neither team led by more than seven points in the second half and there were two ties, the last coming at 45 when Washington hit a lay-up with 3:45 to play.
Stiles missed a jumper on the Lady Bears' next possession, but Deer got the rebound and was fouled. She sank both ends of the 1-and-1 with 3:20 to go to give Southwest Missouri State a lead it never lost.
Nikki Jett missed two shots in the lane on Rutgers' next possession and Stiles fed Campbell for her only basket.
Pointer, who set an NCAA record with 18 assists in a first-round win over Stephen F. Austin, sandwiched two lay-ups around a free throw by Stiles to get Rutgers with 50-49 with 1:13 to play.
Stiles then came up big again. She drove and missed a shot, got her own rebound and was fouled. She hit nothing but net for a 52-49 edge with 52.7 seconds left.
Pointer again got Rutgers within a point with a lay-up with 40 seconds left.
This time, Rutgers got smart and didn't foul Stiles, hitting Erica Vicente instead. The backup point guard, a 60-percent free-throw shooter, made both for a 54-51 lead.
Miles scored on a drive across the lane with 30 seconds left to get Rutgers within 54-53 but that would be it.
Stiles hit two more free throws with 20.9 seconds left. She then added two more after Pointer lost the dribble and fouled out by fouling Stiles.
She hit those two free throws and a breakaway lay-up at the buzzer, igniting a wild, pile-on celebration under the Southwest Missouri State basket.
"Jackie Stiles amazes me every day," said senior teammate Tara
Mitchem, who was held to two points after scoring 40 against
Toledo. "There was never a doubt in my mind she would take over
the game at the end. She's got such a great shot."