DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – The University of Tampa squared off against familiar foe Nova Southeastern University in the semifinal round of the Sunshine State Conference Championships. The Spartans used a strong offensive performance to defeat the 21st ranked Sharks 73-63. After the victory Tampa sits at 18-12 on the season. UT now advances to the SSC Championship game tomorrow at 4:00 pm.
The two teams played an even first quarter as Tampa lead 19-16 after the first 10 minutes of play. Cavallaro led the team in the quarter with seven points. The second quarter of played continued to be a back-and-forth affair as the game was within five points the majority of the period.
The Sharks were able to tie the game back up at 31 at the 2:53 mark in the second quarter. The Spartans would then go on a 7-0 run to finish the half with a 38-31 lead.
Nurmi and Cavallaro led the team offensively in the half as they scored 11 and 10 points respectively. McVey led the team on defense as the center pulled in six rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play.
As a team, UT would shoot 53.3 (16-30) from the field and score 24 points in the paint.
NSU would claw at the UT lead in the second half as they were down just one point at 45-44 with 6:03 left. On the next possession, Jenny Horvatinovic would connect on a jumper to ignite a Spartan 8-0 to push the lead back up to 53-44. The Sharks would score the final three points of the third quarter as they entered the fourth trailing 53-47.
Nova Southeastern would not go away without a fight in the fourth quarter, as they were able to close the margin down to two points again at 55-53 with 7:19 left in the game. That would be the closest the game would get as UT outscored NSU 18-10 in the final 6:39 to seal the 73-63 victory.
With 44 seconds left in the game, Cavallaro converted on a free throw to give her 1,500 career points. She is now the seventh player in program history to reach this milestone.