Grant scores 29 of her 35 after half

Updated: March 12, 2005, 10:14 PM ET
Associated Press

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Shareese Grant's last-second steal and layup in overtime helped put Old Dominion back in their familiar spot atop the Colonial Athletic Association.

The crucial play with 4.6 seconds remaining sealed Old Dominion's 78-74 victory over Delaware on Saturday for its 14th straight CAA title. Grant scored 29 of her career-high 35 points in the second half and overtime, none more important than the final two, after her swipe of Alena Koshansky under the basket.

The steal thwarted the Blue Hens' chance for the win or tie after getting the defensive stop they needed trailing 76-74.

The win gives the Monarchs (22-8) yet another automatic berth in the NCAA tournament and improves them to 41-0 in the CAA tournament since joining the league in 1991-92.

"That's an automatic bid that we don't have to worry about whether somebody invites us," Old Dominion coach Wendy Larry said. "We've always talked about inviting ourselves and we accomplished that today."

They wouldn't have had a chance without Grant.

Old Dominion's streaky guard hit 15-of-19 from the floor – one day after shooting 2-for-14 – and scored the Monarchs' final 10 points of regulation. Late in the game, Grant and the Monarchs started to run out of options as four teammates fouled out, which helped the Blue Hens get 40 free-throw attempts.

"We had a joke on the bench. Somebody came up behind me and turned the switch on and said, 'All right, it's your time to go,' " Grant said. "From then I just picked it up."

Grant hit a baseline jumper with 12.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 68 and scored five more points in overtime.

Delaware (25-5), which won the America East conference final in 2000-01 for its only other trip to the NCAA tournament, couldn't have asked for a better chance to end Old Dominion's record streak.

On the strength of 23 points from Tiffany Young and 19 from Tiara Malcom, the Blue Hens led 58-50 with 6:53 left in regulation. They then had the ball in the closing seconds with the game tied after Grant's late jumper.

However, the Blue Hens never got off a potential winning shot, and failed to find an answer for Grant.

"We had looks on the block that we didn't finish. We had opportunities that we rushed,'' Delaware coach Tina Martin said. ``It's unfortunate because my kids have played their hearts out and we just came up a little bit short.''

Now the Blue Hens must wait and see if 25 victories, including two in the regular season over Old Dominion, and a regular-season conference title are good enough to make the NCAA tournament.

"If we don't get in, something's wrong with our conference," Logan said. "I just cannot believe that this league is not deserving of two teams."

T.J. Jordan had 11 points, and three 3-pointers for the Monarchs.

Tyresa Smith scored 18 for Delaware, including seven points in the final two minutes of regulation that helped the Blue Hens take a 68-66 lead with 38 seconds left.

Delaware led 35-28 at halftime, but Old Dominion rallied to tie the game at 58 with 5:19 to play.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press