- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Colonial Athletic Association women’s basketball tournament is often referred to as the Old Dominion Invitational because the Monarchs have won it every year since they joined the league. Now maybe it’s time to name the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award after Shareese Grant.

Grant collected the honor for the third straight year after carrying the Monarchs to their 14th tournament title with a career-high 35 points in yesterday’s 78-74 overtime victory against Delaware at Patriot Center.

“In this league, she had kind of been the [former Connecticut star] Diana Taurasi,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “As [Connecticut coach] Geno [Auriemma] would say, and [Monarch coach] Wendy [Larry] can say, they had Shareese and we didn’t. That is the bottom line.”

Grant, a senior from Virginia Beach, scored the Monarchs’ final 10 points in regulation and sealed the championship by stripping Delaware’s Julie Sailer with four seconds left and laying the ball in.

One day after missing 12 of 14 shots, Grant knocked down 15 of 19 on a variety of mid-range jumpers and slashing drives to the basket.

“We had a joke on the bench [afterward] that someone came up behind me and turned the switch on and they were like, “OK, ‘Reese, it’s your time to go,’” Grant said. “I had to step it up.”

Old Dominion (22-8) trailed for nearly all of the first 36 minutes. Delaware’s zone defense forced the Monarchs into tough shots, and the frontcourt duo of Tiara Malcom and Tiffany Young dominated in the paint for the Blue Hens (25-5) .

Larry credited walk-on guard Melea Caldwell for changing the tempo of the contest down the stretch. Caldwell, who had just 50 minutes over the team’s first 29 games, logged 12 in the second half, and her ability to split the Blue Hens’ trapping 2-3 zone freed Grant up for shots.

Caldwell was pressed into duty in part by foul trouble. Four Old Dominion players fouled out and a fifth, Tish Lyons, played with four fouls.

“It was a tremendous battle,” Larry said. “It was a situation where we had a tremendous gut check down the stretch and we were playing with midgets.”

Young, from Fairfax High School, led the Blue Hens with 23 points and nine rebounds. Malcom added 19 and seven but did not make a field goal after halftime. Tyresa Smith finished with 18 points, including eight straight in the final moments of regulation.

After making 25 of 33 free throws in regulation, the Blue Hens missed three of seven in the overtime period.

Delaware will have to sweat out the selection show today to find out if it earns an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Blue Hens would be the first CAA team to do so since James Madison in 1996.

“If we don’t get in, then there is something wrong with our conference,” Martin said. “I just can’t believe that this league isn’t deserving of two bids. … You’ve got to be kidding me if this team doesn’t deserve to be in.”

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