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Spartans Edge Lady Bucs 55-51

Gianna Messina's 18-foot jump shot from the right wing with 48.9 seconds left gave the Tampa Spartans the lead for good in a 55-51 victory over the Barry Lady Buccaneers in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament South Regional at Arkansas Tech University on Friday night.

Tampa (26-4) led by as many as 15 points early in the second half, but Barry went on a 23-6 run to take a 41-39 lead at the 5:26 mark.

Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the way. It was tied 50-50 before Messina hit her 18-footer to put Tampa in front.

Barry (19-9) had a chance to tie it with 21.7 seconds left, but the Lady Buccaneers made just 1-of-2 from the free throw line to leave the Spartans with a 52-51 edge.

Tampa put it away by making 3-of-4 free throws over the final 11.9 seconds.

Tiara Cook had 20 points for the Spartans to lead all scorers.

Mariesa Greene scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Barry.

Tampa advances to face Arkansas Tech in the regional semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.