Smith leads in win over Ashford

Published 5:43 am Monday, February 25, 2008

By By Adam Robinson – sports editor
T.R. Miller Lady Tiger Nakiya Smith had the game of her life Thursday night in the Class 4A South Regional in Troy, but it was almost for nothing.
Smith led the Lady Tigers and the game with 28 points and recorded 11 rebounds in a 52-48 win over No. 9 Ashford.
But Smith's final three points of the night and her last offensive rebound were the biggest as she connected for two late free throws with 10 seconds left and one with 4 seconds left to give the Lady Tigers a four-point lead and able to hang on for their 15th win in a row and improve to 20-4 on the year.
After leading by as many as 13 points at 47-34 at the 4:08 mark, Ashford went on a 10-0 run to cut the Lady Tiger lead to 47-44 with 34 seconds left in the game. Smith hit one of two free throws to give the Lady Tigers a 48-44 lead with 27 seconds left, but an Ashford 3-pointer cut the lead to 48-47 with 20 seconds left.
From there, T.R. Miller took a 49-47 lead after a free throw by Catherine Green, but a missed second shot was rebounded by Smith, who made two free throws to give the Lady Tigers a 51-47 lead with 10 seconds left. Ashford cut the lead to 51-48 at the 7-second mark and another shot by Smith made it a 52-48 lead with 4 seconds as Miller held on for the win 52-48.
Smith's free throws at the end made it a two-possession game and propelled the Lady Tigers to the win. Smith was 5-of-8 from the charity stripe in the game and recorded a double-double with 11 rebounds in the win. She went on to win the tournament MVP award after Miller beat Handley for the title.
In the final four minutes of the game while Ashford made their run, the Tigers had six turnovers.
While Smith was the overall top scorer, it was a team effort that propelled the Tigers to their first regional appearance and win. The Lady Tigers missed the regional last year and most recently made the regional in 2006, when they suffered a 51-16 loss to Midfield.
The Lady Tigers never trailed in the game and took an early 4-0 lead before Ashford broke through on the board with a free throw at the 6:04 mark to cut the lead to 4-1.
A second made shot cut the lead to 4-2 as T.R. Miller jumped out to a 12-2 lead with 1:12 left after points by Smith and Ashley Williams.
All of Ashford's four points in the quarter came on free throws as the Tigers held a 14-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lady Tigers lead was cut to four points at 22-18 with 1:41 mark and 24-20 at the 58 second mark, but a missed lay-up and rebound by Briana Gatlin produced a lay-up by Kesha Peterson with 26 seconds left as the Lady Tigers held a six-point lead at the half at 26-20.
In the fourth, the Tigers held on to a late Ashford rally to take the 52-48 win.
The Lady Tigers shot 40.4 percent from the field to Ashford's 31.1 percent. Miller was 2-for-10 from the 3-point area as Ashford was 4-for-5 for 80 percent and Miller was 8-for-13 from the free throw stripe as Ashford was 16-for-30 for 53.3 percent.
T.R. Miller 14 12 10 16-52
Ashford 4 16 7 21-48
Scorers: Smith 28, Williams 9, Peterson 6, Green 3, Boley 2, Shedrone 2, Gatlin 2