GARLAND, Texas — Prairie View A&M’s players were exhausted, beaten up during a physical game and challenged by persistent Mississippi Valley State.
But the Lady Panthers were determined to secure their third straight NCAA tournament berth — no matter how long it took.
Kiara Etienne scored 31 points, Jeanette Jackson had six points in the fourth overtime and Prairie View A&M won its third straight Southwestern Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament title by beating MVSU 100-87 on Saturday.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know how many overtimes we played,” coach Toyelle Wilson said. “I credit our girls — relentless. They said they could go five more (overtimes).”
Prairie View A&M (17-14) was probably just as content finishing off its eighth straight victory in the fourth overtime. In a game when the margin was rarely more than four points after halftime, the Lady Panthers outscored the Devilettes 15-2 in the final extra session.
Prairie View’s Larissa Scott scored 24 points, and Latia Williams added 17. The Lady Panthers were 9-14 after losing a second time this season to the Devilettes on Feb. 16.
Prairie View hasn’t lost since and will play in the NCAA tournament again after losing to Connecticut last year in the first round.
“I knew we were getting tired,” said Jackson, who finished with 13 points. “So we kept pushing ourselves.”
Mississippi Valley State (17-15) had chances to win in regulation and the first overtime. The Devilettes sent the game to a fourth overtime on Khristina Clemons’ layup just before the buzzer.
Clemons had 26 points, and Jasmyne Sanders chipped in 18 for Mississippi Valley State, which was denied its first NCAA tournament berth.
First-year coach Elvis Robinson tried to hold back tears when talking to reporters.
“I’m disappointed that I couldn’t do for them what I needed to do for them as a coach,” he said.
Williams and Jackson hit two free throws each to give Prairie View an 89-85 lead in the fourth overtime. After Clemons scored the Devilettes’ only points in the final extra period, Jackson hit a jumper off one leg to push the lead to four.
Jackson clinched the win when she drove the length of the floor for a basket, putting the Lady Panthers up 95-87 with 21.3 seconds left. Etienne capped the nearly three-hour game with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, setting off a celebration near midcourt.