JACKSON, Tenn. – The No. 8 seed University of Tampa Spartans squared off against No. 1 seed and host Union University Bulldogs in the opening round of the NCAA South Regional Tournament. The Spartans used a balanced performance to defeat the ninth-ranked team in the nation 72-62. With the victory UT improves to 20-12 and will play in the semifinal round tomorrow. Union concludes its season with a record of 28-4.
Juliana Cavallaro led the way for Tampa as the senior guard went off for 23 points. The senior did most of her damage from three-point range as she went 5-for-8. She would also add five rebounds on the night.
Elena de Alfredo was also key to the Tampa offense, as the point guard would contribute with 16 points and dished out six assists. Ellen Nurmi added 11 points, and Candace Martino came off the bench to knock down 10 points.
Union would start the game fast as they quickly jumped out to a 9-2 advantage five minutes into the opening quarter. Tampa would be able to settle down in the quarter as they went on an 8-2 run to end the quarter leading 15-14.
The offense continued to perform for UT, as Cavallaro made three-pointers on three consecutive possessions to give her team a 24-18 advantage. The Bulldogs were limited to just eight points in the quarter, as the two teams headed to the locker room with the Spartans leading 28-22.
Cavallaro led all scorers in the first half with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
UU was able to start connecting on shots in the third quarter, bringing down the UT lead to just three at 34-31 with 4:18 remaining in the quarter. Cavallaro made yet another three with a minute left to play to push the Spartan lead to 43-37 after the end of three quarters.
Tampa started the fourth quarter with an 11-4 run to extend its lead to 54-41 with 6:46 remaining in the contest. Nurmi made a pair of free-throw at the 1:24-minute mark to put the nail in the coffin and give UT its largest lead of the game at 67-51. The Bulldogs would try and foul down the stretch, but the Spartans would knock down free-throws to seal the victory.
As a team UT shot 51.9 (27-52) percent from the field and 55 (11-20) percent from three. They would also dominate bench scoring, winning the battle 18-2.
The Spartans will now advance to the NCAA South Regional Semifinals taking on the winner of Florida Southern and Kentucky State. The game is set to begin at 7:30 CT.
Fans may follow University of Tampa athletics on Twitter (www.twitter.com/tampaspartans), Facebook (www.facebook.com/tampaspartans), YouTube (youtube.com/utathletics) and Instagram (tampaspartans). UT also offers a free text messaging service that sends text alerts following all Spartan events. To sign up, please register at www.tampaspartans.com