There were tears of joy and tears of sorrow at the end of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship.
However, there were no signs of sorrow for the University of North Georgia Women’s Basketball team as they celebrated their first ever PBC tourney title after defeating Lander 76-60 on March 4 at the Convocation Center in Dahlonega.
“Cloud nine basically, it’s just a great feeling just to know that we won,” senior forward Deana Blankinship said.
North Georgia senior guard Julie McKie was so happy that she shed tears of joy in the closing seconds of UNG’s first-ever PBC tournament title win.
“It feels amazing, really amazing,” McKie said. “We won, we just won, we did it, we grabbed it and now it’s ours.”
UNG started off the game going on a 10-2 run in the first quarter. The Bearcats climbed back in it to make it a 14-10 game in favor of UNG at the end of the first quarter.
The Nighthawks made use of 9-0 run in the second quarter to take a commanding 33-19 lead into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Lander made a push and cut the UNG lead to 10 when Lander’s Chelsea Mitchell stole the ball and pushed it up the court on a fast break where Breshay Johnson scored a layup, bringing the score to 52-42 following a North Georgia timeout with 2:01 in the third.
Later in the game, the Bearcats cut the lead to nine courtesy of a Jessica Harris layup to make the score 55-46. On the following possession, Vanessa Agrusa of North Georgia was fouled and missed both of her free-throws but Julianne Sutton had the put back to restore North Georgia’s double-digit lead, making it a 57-46 game at the end of the third.
In the fourth quarter, the Bearcats cut the lead back to single digits when Johnson made both of her free throws to make it a 59-50 game. That was the closest Lander would get to UNG’s lead for the remainder of the game as the Nighthawks pulled away late to claim a PBC Championship.
“Unbelievable, I’m proud of our team and our coaches, all UNG coming out and supporting us, it’s just an amazing feeling,” North Georgia head coach Buffie Burson said.
The Nighthawks are now in the NCAA Division II tournament, competing in the Southeast Region. This is the second time in school history that North Georgia has made it to the NCAA Division II tournament. The last team to make it for North Georgia was the 2013-2014 squad.
North Georgia is excited to make the run.
“We said from the beginning this was our goal and we are not done yet we still have a lot further to go, we’re pumped and we’re ready, for whoever they bring to us,” Blankinship said.