TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands (CMC) — Jennifer George made a clutch basket from the paint with 3:20 minutes remaining, as Jamaica held off a strong Dominican Republic fourth- quarter surge to emerge champions of the Women's Caribbean Basketball Championship here Saturday night.
With the scores locked at 43, George held her nerve to score from close range and put Jamaica ahead for good, allowing them to get home with 51-45 victory at the Multi-Purpose Sports Complex.
George had yet another strong game, scoring 13 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, but it was Sasha Dixon and Shenneika Smith who led all scorers with 14 points.
No Dominican Republic player found double figures, leaving Yohanna Morton as the highest scorer with nine points and five rebounds, with Melissa Santos chipping in with eight points.
The game proved competitive and close throughout, with Jamaica holding a two-point (14-16) lead at the end of the first quarter, while scores were tied at 22 at the half-time whistle.
Jamaica inched ahead 34-30 at the end of the third quarter, paving the way for an intriguing fourth-quarter battle.
Santos knocked down a jumper from the baseline to draw the DR within two of the lead at 34-32, but Dixon responded from three-point land to extend Jamaica's lead to five, 37-32.
A George free throw stretched Jamaica's lead even further at 40-34 with 7:31, and it appeared as if Jamaica would run away with the contest.
However, the DR held Jamaica scoreless for nearly three minutes while rattling off five points to transform the contest into a one-point game at 40-39, with 5:11 left in the game. Santos and Morton both found the basket from inside the arc, with Morton scoring once from the line after she was fouled by Smith.
A Dixon three-point gave Jamaica breathing space, but the DR refused to go away, with Danilsa Andujar scoring a clutch brace before Morton drove into the paint for another basket to blow the game open at 43-43 with 3:42 remaining.
George then came up big with her shot to send Jamaica ahead and Yamel Abreu fouled Smith to give Jamaica two more free throws, which were converted for a 47-43 lead, four-point advantage with 2:34 minutes remaining.
DR got within three at 48-45 thanks to a Santos basket with 1:50 left, but Morton and Abreu missed key baskets that would have given DR the lead.
Smith made one of two free throws after she was fouled by Abreu and Morton again missed crucial shots with time ticking away as DR scuppered their chance to eke out a late win.