Mitchell, Poole lift Lady Eagles to 58-54 victory over AUM
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Faulkner's Jae Mitchell was deadly from the free throw line and Vittoria Poole knocked down a key 3-pointer in the final minutes as the Lady Eagles escaped wth a 58-54 victory over Auburn Montgomery here Saturday afternoon, earning a berth in next week's Southern States Athletic Conference tournament.
With the win, combined with other SSAC West results on Saturday, Faulkner earned the third seed out of the West in next week's league tournament in Rome, Ga., and will face 20th-ranked Southern Poly, the second seed from the East, Thursday afternoon at 4. Auburn Montgomery (14-16, 5-7 SSAC West) needed to win to earn a tourney berth.
The Lady Eagles (20-9, 6-6 SSAC West) saw a nine-point, second-half lead flipped into a 40-37 Lady Senator advantage with 8:16 left in the game. Fouled while trying a long 3-pointer, Mitchell made the three free throws to tie it and Faulkner never trailed again.
After Spenser Cantrell had given Faulkner a three-point lead it was Poole who applied the dagger with 1:45 left. The 5-0 junior, who had made only two of her previous 23 3-point attempts, found the target with the shot clock winding down to push the lead to six and the Lady Senators never got closer than three the rest of the way as Mitchell made five free throws down the stretch.
"It was just an incredible effort by our basketball team," Faulkner head
coach Reed Sutton said. "I thought we played as hard as we could play for 40 minutes, and we hit big shots at key times. Vitt is small in stature but she has a heart the size of a mountain. And Jae was money from the free-throw line. I just couldn't be happier with this team. We played like an experienced team today, and that's huge headed to the conference tournament."
Brittney Carter led Faulkner with 15 points and 22 rebounds, while Leticia Cuellar added 11. Auburn Montgomery got 15 points from Lacey Griffin and 14 from Courtney Thacker. Haley McIntyre added 12 for the Lady Senators. Carlie Ainsworth, AUM's leading scorer, was held without a point on the Lady
Senators' Senior Day.
Faulkner's defensive pressure held AUM to 25 percent shooting in the opening half, building as much as a 12-point lead. The Lady Senators scored the last five points of the opening 20 minutes, and went to the break down 29-21. For the game, Faulkner shot 32 percent and AUM 28 percent, with the Lady Eagles winning the rebounding battle 49-45.