Lady Flames Fall To Westmont, 71-65, In National Title Game

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


FRANKFORT, Ky. – The one-two combination of Westmont College’s Tugce Canitez and Kelsie Sampson was simply too much for the battling Lee basketball team in the championship final of the 2013 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship.

Canitez was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after collecting 25 points and pulling down 20 rebounds.

Sampson earned a spot on the all-tournament team and led the Warriors’ surge in the second half. She also had 25 points and six rebounds.

It was the first time that either Lee or Westmont had reached the championship game. The 71-65 win by the California club was the institution’s eighth crown, and denied Lee’s basketball squad of a NAIA title as they depart for the Gulf South and NCAA Division II.

“They played really well,” said coach Marty Rowe, who quickly pointed out that he was very proud of everything his team had accomplished this season. “Westmont executed their game plan really well and we couldn’t find answers for their two big girls down low. They were hard to guard and they got position on us most of the night down in the lane.

“We left the NAIA exactly how we wanted to, with the exception of winning this game. We simply got beat by a good basketball team tonight.”

Canitez connected on a runner in the lane to give the Warriors a 71-65 lead with nine seconds left. Lee (34-3) had its last two opportunities blocked as the final seconds ran off the clock.

Hollie German helped get the Lady Flames off to an early start and scored her team’s first nine points, including the first of four 3-pointers to open the game. Lee’s lead grew to eight, 16-8 seven minutes into the final half on another trey by German.

However, in the game of runs, Westmont took its first lead of the night, 17-16, by outscoring the Lady Flames 9-0 as Sampson knocked down a pair of free throws.

The Warriors picked up the defensive intensity as the two talented teams traded runs over the next few minutes. The halftime ended on a bucket by German that cut the Warriors lead to 34-30.

Lee got off to a quick start and was the aggressors to open the second 20 minutes, scoring four points to tie the game at 34 at the 19:31 mark. Coach Rowe’s club would continue to fight back and tie the score two other times during the second period, but on each occasion Westmont scored on its next possession to quickly cool the Lee runs. The Warriors earned their first double-digit lead of the game with 4:42 left on Sampson’s 25th point of the night.

Lee stepped up again and got back-to-back buckets by Jenna Adams and a 3-pointer from German to quickly cut the Westmont advantage back to three points with less than one minute remaining. However, the late surge proved to be too little too late.

The Warriors finished the game shooting over 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. Westmont also dominated the glass, outrebounding Lee 45-27.

The Lady Flames, as coach Rowe explained, never shot the ball well the entire tournament. In the final, they converted 39 percent for the game and struggled again from 3-point range (8-of-25).

“I thought we played hard,” Rowe stressed. “They are the best offensive team we played during the entire tournament."

German, who had an outstanding tournament and was named to the all-tournament first team, was the game’s leading scorer with 27 points. Adams, who was also an all-tournament selection, finished with 19 to go along with seven rebounds. Karley Miller added eight points and five boards.

The well-played game saw the Lady Flames turn the basketball over just five times compared to 10 assists. Brooke Hamby had four assists and German totaled three.

Westmont guard Esther Lee hurt the Lady Flames by knocking down 4-of-5 3-point attempts and finished with 12 points. Celina Gougis also contributed for the champions, scoring 12 points and garnering seven rebounds.

“I’m extremely happy for our seniors (Hamby, Julia Zimmerman, Mary Jackson and four-year player Rachel Lockhart),” praised Rowe. “I think people really appreciate the hard work our team put in over this run. Setting a new school record for number of victories and reaching the NAIA final for the first time is something our team can always be very proud of.

“From where we started at the beginning of the season to this point, I’m pleased with this club and what we accomplished. We are ready for the next step next year.”



PHOTOS: East Hamilton Notches Dramatic Win Over Walker Valley

Covenant Drops Pair To No. 9 Emory

Playing against one of the top Division III teams in the country, the Covenant softball team was unable to get anything going against two top pitchers and succumbed to No. 9 Emory 14-0 and 9-1 in a doubleheader Tuesday. The games drop Covenant to 9-13 on the year and continues a losing streak that now stands at six games in a row. Emory is now 24-2 for the season and have won ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Detective Karl Fields Terminated On Code Of Conduct Charges

Karl Fields, former Chattanooga Police detective, was terminated on Wednesday, on code of conduct charges. The Chattanooga Police Department received a correspondence from the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office o n Sept. 4, 2014,  informing it of allegations of inappropriate behavior committed by a CPD investigator during the course of a rape investigation. ... (click for more)

Autopsy Says 5-Year-Old Whitwell Boy Died Of Blunt Force Trauma

An autopsy on five-year-old Lucas Dillon of Whitwell says he died of blunt force trauma. The TBI is investigating the death, which is being treated as a homicide. The child, who lived on Jewell Lane Road, was injured on Saturday and died in a hospital on Monday. Lucas was a student at Whitwell Head Start. (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Look At My April Garden

On this April Fool’s Day, as I take my monthly stroll through my virtual garden, there are gorgeous flowers and there are weeds, which appear to be trying harder than the flowers. So let’s see what we find before searching for “The Prize Egg” on Sunday. A FLOWER to the New York cab driver who told a young writer, “Always remember that everyone you meet knows something that you ... (click for more)