NEW ORLEANS — Kyra Collier caught fire in the fourth quarter to lead the Trojans to a 80-64 win over Appalachian State to earn a spot in the championship game of the Sun Belt Tournament.
The win clinched the fifth straight 20-win season for the maroon and silver. In the last 13 seasons, Little Rock has reached the 20-win mark 12 times.
Collier tallied 25 points on the day, making five consecutive field goals in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer, to lead all scorers. Ronjanae DeGray put in an excellent performance on both ends of the floor, notching 19 points and seven rebounds. Raeyana DeGray was fantastic on the offensive glass, registering eight rebounds (six offensive) while pouring in 17 points.
The DeGray sisters each hit a layup to get the Trojans started in the opening period. Collier then got herself on the scoresheet with a tough driving layup in the paint. Tori Lasker started a fastbreak with a steal and dished to Ra. DeGray to force an Appalachian State timeout after Little Rock got out to an early 8-2 lead. After a short surge from the Mountaineers, a three-pointer from Lasker helped regain some momentum for the Trojans. Coming off the bench, Teal Battle got in on the first quarter scoring with an impressive drive to the basket, but neither team could separate themselves in the first ten minutes. However, the Trojans managed to take a 20-19 advantage heading into the second.
Terrion Moore got herself going in the second quarter by scoring back-to-back buckets to momentarily give the Trojans the lead. Ro. DeGray knocked down a 17-foot jumper right after the media timeout to push her team's lead to four points. The teams would trade baskets for much of the second quarter but Little Rock would manage a 36-33 advantage heading into the break after shooting 55.2 percent from the floor.
The second half started much like the first as the DeGray sisters once again scored consecutive baskets to open the scoring. Moore hit a jumper in transition and then forced a turnover on the defensive end to force a Mountaineer timeout halfway through the third period. Ro. DeGray continued her brilliance by making a tough fadeaway jumper from the free throw line followed by another elbow jumper to give her team a seven-point lead just under the two-minute mark in the third period. Collier got her runner to fall as the buzzer sounded in the third period to give Little Rock a two-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Four consecutive baskets from Collier gave the Trojans some much need momentum early in the fourth quarter. Two free throws from the junior gave her 10 consecutive points to start the final period as she single-handedly gave the Trojans a double-digit lead. Little Rock would do a great job closing out the win with clutch free-throw shooting and managed to solidify their spot in the championship game.
Little Rock will await the winner of the other semifinal game between two-seed UT Arlington and seven-seed South Alabama. The championship game will take place tomorrow at 11 a.m. inside Lakefront Arena, sending the winner to the NCAA Tournament.