FREEPORT, Grand Bahama Island -- Tournament MVP and junior forward Tiffany Jackson netted a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, and also dished out three assists and had a game-high five steals, while All-Tournament freshman guard Erika Arriaran had a game-high 15 points, to lift the No. 18 University of Texas women's basketball team to a 59-54 victory over George Washington Saturday in the championship game of the 2005 Junkanoo Jam Classic (Lucaya Division) taking place in Freeport.
The Junkanoo Jam is a two-division, eight-team tourney (four teams per division). Texas, now 3-1, claims the Lucaya Division title after posting an opening round win over South Carolina (59-55) Friday. George Washington (1-2) advanced to the finals with a 49-47 win over No. 19 Purdue on Friday.
The game was decided down the stretch on the foul line. With the score knotted at 43-43 with 5:21 left to play, Texas converted on 11 of 12 free throws and two three-point jumpers. The first trey came from Arriaran at the 5:07 mark, which put Texas in the lead for good, 46-43.
In the final 5:21, George Washington could convert on only one of four free throws and went four-for-10 from the field.
Texas extended its 46-43 to five, 48-43, on two free throws by freshman forward Earnesia Williams, but GW cut the lead to three with a Jessica Simmonds jumper with 4:05 to play. After a Texas turnover and a GW missed shot, the Longhorns got the ball back and with one second left on the shot clock, Williams banked home a straightaway three-pointer to push UT's lead up to six, 51-45, with 2:23 to play.
The rest of the way, GW got no closer than three points twice - at 54-51 with 37 seconds left to go and at 57-54 with 13 seconds remaining. GW got to within three, 54-51, on a Kimberly Beck three-pointer, but Texas answered with four straight free throws, two by Jackson and two by freshman guard Carla Cortijo, to increase the lead to 57-51 with 23 seconds left. Another Beck three-pointer from the top of the key cut the UT lead to three again (57-54), but the Colonials fouled senior guard Nina Norman on UT's possession and Norman sank both free throws to give UT the five-point margin of victory, 59-54 with 12 seconds to play. Texas pressured the ball on the inbounds, and GW missed its final shot, a three-point attempt, with no time on the clock.
The first lead for GW came at the 16:27 mark in the second half, when the Colonials took the lead, 28-27, on a Whitney Allen layup. The Colonials extended that lead to five, 34-29, on another Allen layout with 12:20 to go, but Texas fought back with a 10-4 run over the next 4:36 to move ahead, 39-38, behind Jackson's six points, two rebounds and one blocked shot. The two teams traded baskets until Arriaran's trey broke the 43-43 tie and gave Texas the lead for good.
Neither team shot the ball well in the contest, as Texas connected on 32 percent of its shots (18-56) and GW on 33 percent of its shots (21-63). The difference was on the foul line, where the Longhorns converted 19 of 27 free throws, hitting 71 percent of their foul shots, while GW made only 8 of 17 free throws (47 percent). The Horns were 16-for-21 from the foul line in the final half, while the Colonials wer 7-for-14. Texas held the edge in rebounding, 46-41, and both teams went 4-for-14 from 3-point range and each had six blocks. Texas committed 21 turnovers and GW had 16.
Jackson collected 22 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and eight steals in the two-game tourney. The 6-3 junior, marred by foul trouble in the South Carolina game, finished that game with eight points, five boards and three steals. Arriaran, also named to the five-member All-Tournament Team, was UT's leading scorer both games. She finished the tourney with 29 points, nine rebounds, four assists and five steals and went nine-for-10 from the foul line.
The Longhorns never trailed in the first half and led by four (24-20) at intermission. Arriaran had 10 points and four rebounds to pace the Longhorns in those first 20 minutes.
Arriaran and Jackson were the only Longhorns players in double-figure scoring. Williams was third in scoring, finishing with six points.
GW was led by a 13-point, four-assist effort from point guard Beck, while Allen added nine points and Jessica Simmonds finished with seven points, a team-high nine rebounds and five assists.
The Longhorns will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 1, when they complete a three-game road trip, playing at Tennessee, which is ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 and No. 2 in the Associated Press Poll. That game will be a 6 p.m. (Central) tip at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, and will air live on ESPN2. The Longhorns own a four-game series win streak over the Lady Vols - the longest such win streak in the country against Tennessee.
Following that game, Texas returns home to host the nation's other No. 1 ranked squad - Duke - on Sunday, Dec. 4 (12:30 p.m.) in a game live on FSN (FOX Sports Net) TV. Duke stand first in the AP Top 25 Poll and second in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
Texas is the only team in the country to face Tennessee and Duke in back-to-back games this regular season. In addition, Texas joins Old Dominion, Maryland and Auburn as the only schools with Tennessee and Duke on their 2005-06 schedules.
All Texas women's basketball games, home and away, also air on commercial radio at KVET (1300 AM) in the Austin area. On the internet, all games are available via Yahoo!Sports in a subscription-based service, which can be accessed at TexasSports.com.
For ticket information, go to TexasBoxOffice.com or call 512-471-3333 or 1-800-982-BEVO. For charge-by-phone, you can call 512-477-6060. Tickets can be purchased in person at the following locations: Bellmont Hall Athletics Ticket Office (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m-4 p.m. Central); and at any Texas Box Office location, including the Frank Erwin Center (Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and game days prior to tipoff) or at Austin area H-E-B stores.
TEXAS POSTGAME QUOTES
Head Coach Jody Conradt
On Texas' play in general: Well, this is the type of game which will make us all grow older - which is good for our young team, but certainly not good for me and the rest of the coaching staff. It certainly wasn't a pretty demonstration of offense, and it was not a thing of beauty, but we played hard and for the second game in a row, found a way to win. We need to work a lot on getting our offense on track, but we responded when we had to on the boards and at the foul line tonight. I really could not have asked for a situation for our young players. Yesterday, we had to battle back without Tiffany (Jackson) on the court due to foul trouble, and tonight, we just hung together and gutted this one out. I think we gained a great deal of confidence and stayed positive throughout the game. I think this tournament showed us that if we stay connected and play hard, that we can win.
On the play of All-Tournament Team picks Tiffany Jackson and Erika Arriaran: Tiffany Jackson is just amazing, isn't she? At times tonight, she drew attention from the whole George Washington team when she touched the ball. She was really productive and played a smart game for us on both ends of the floor. I am really proud of the way Tiffany is stepping up as a leader on our team. With Nina (Norman) in and out of practices and games with her knee injury, it's been Tiffany who has shouldered the responsibilities for this team.
As for Erika, she is a special player. Every college coach in the country knew that the first time we all saw her as an eighth-grader, competing at the top summer camps. She really has had to grow up in a hurry the last few weeks. In this tournament, she made a lot of tough and critical shots for us. We know what a great shooter she is, but I am especially pleased with her defense, which improves every day.
On the next phase of UT's schedule - facing the nation's two top-rated teams, Tennessee and Duke, in back-to-back games: Well, it's a little too early to look ahead on specifics for those two games. I know that this is going to be a very challenging week for our young team, but we specifically schedule the best opponents we can to prepare us for what awaits us in the Big 12. However, after we enjoy this win tonight, the coaches will need to get the players away from focusing on the Bahamas and what they accomplished here. We will have three days of practice to get ready for Tennessee, and then two days to prepare for Duke. I will be looking for us to show the same intensity and fight against Tennessee and Duke that we showed this weekend.
Junior Forward Tiffany Jackson
Her assessment of her performance and the play of her teammates: I was really glad to have a strong performance tonight and really help our team. Last night was frustrating for me because I got in foul trouble early. I know teams are going to double and triple-team me, and I have to make sure that I am ready for that. Tonight, we played a great team game. Everyone contributed. We had some great passing today, and really pushed the ball. We did a good job of making our free throws in the last few minutes, and we did not lose our confidence, and I want to credit Nina Norman. She did a good job scoring and hitting her free throws and she really has a presence on the floor for us. As for the freshmen, they are really learning and playing hard. I think they all gained a lot of confidence in this tournament, because we had to rely on them and they came through for us in both games.