NASHVILLE -- There were some things the Briarcrest Christian Lady Saints did well in their Division II-AA state basketball semifinal against second-ranked GPS on Friday.
The problem is, the Bruisers did a lot of the same things a little better.
GPS forced 22 turnovers and had a big third-quarter run that propelled it into tonight's state championship game with a 65-51 victory over the top-ranked Lady Saints at Lipscomb University.
"We're excited about the chance to play again in the state championship game," GPS senior Simone Busby said. "It's what we've worked for and it's finally here. We like that we're back again, but we can't get big-headed. We know we're the team to beat, so we have to stay humble and play smart and together."
The Bruisers (26-4) will face Ensworth/Pope John Paul II in the title game today at 4 p.m. EST. They were led by Chadarryl Clay's 23 points, but everybody who played contributed in some fashion, including eighth-grader Akia Harris, who blocked a shot at the halftime buzzer to preserve a 26-24 lead.
The Bruisers started the second half with a 14-2 spurt. GPS coach Susan Crownover said not much changed from the first half, except for efficiency on offense.
"I thought we ran our stuff a lot better in the second half," she said. "We forced 12 turnovers in the first half, but we were shooting too quickly. In the second half, we started to get better looks.
"We play off of our defense. Everybody know that."
The Bruisers also went at Briarcrest senior post Lauren Douglas, who had a pair of first-half fouls and picked up her third midway through the third quarter and her fourth minutes into the final period. With her out, the Lady Saints weren't as dangerous and GPS took full advantage.
She finished with 12 points and six rebounds but had five turnovers.
"That's their impact player. We had to get her out of the game," Clay said.
Jeneh Perry was a beneficiary, scoring 12 points, while Busby added 10. Brianna Farris had eight and Tory Kemp seven.
Dakota Doss paced Briarcrest (26-4) with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
"I thought we rushed at times," Briarcrest coach Lee Smith said. "We didn't handle the pressure, and we didn't guard the baseline. GPS is a good team, but with the up-tempo pressure they play I thought we'd go to the line more. We shoot nine free throws to their 33, and that's a game-breaker.
"It's not an excuse, though. We did it to ourselves. ... It's not what they did to us; it's what we didn't do."