ATLANTA - Wesleyan girls basketball coach Jan Azar will be the first to admit her team's Region 6-AA tournament semifinal against Buford wasn't the Wolves' best effort.
However, it was good enough.
Top-ranked Wesleyan limited No. 10 Buford to just seven field goals for the game, forced 28 turnovers and pulled away in the second half for a 53-30 victory Friday at Pace Academy's Inman Center.
"It was ugly," Azar said after her team improved to 25-2 on the season and advanced into tonight's 7 p.m. championship game against GAC. "But we'll take it."
The first half was ugly for both teams as Buford (22-6) committed 15 turnovers, but held a big rebounding advantage to keep things close.
Buford twice led by three points in the first quarter - the last time at 10-7 after Michelle Godwin's driving layup from the right wing with 35 seconds left in the opening frame.
And with both Anne Marie Armstrong and Erin Hall both on the bench with foul trouble, it looked like Buford would have a chance to build on the lead.
But Grace Leah Baughn answered with a free throw and Aysia McKenzie banked home a 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to vault Wesleyan in front at 11-10.
Blanche Alverson got to the free-throw line and connected twice on Buford's first possession of the second quarter to put the Wolves back on top at
However, those were the last points Buford would hit for the next 6:26 as Wesleyan led 22-14 at the half.
Armstrong connected on a three-point play and two 3-pointers, while Hall added another shot from behind the arc to help push Wesleyan's lead to 34-16 with 3:59 left in the third quarter.
Both then went to the bench with foul trouble early in the period, but as was the case in the second, Wesleyan's bench helped the Wolves increase their lead.
This time reserve Kennington Groff got free for a layup that started 7-2 run over the final 2:48 of the quarter and expand Wesleyan's advantage to 41-18 heading into the final frame.
Armstrong still led Wesleyan with 14 points, while Baughn came off the bench to contribute 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Jocelyn Danley was Buford's high scorer with seven points and pulled down six rebounds, while leading scorer Alverson was held to just two free throws, though she did finish with eight rebounds.
GAC 45, Paideia 37 (OT)
The No. 3 Spartans (22-4) had an equally sloppy game in their semifinal with No. 8 Paideia, but survived by outscoring the Pythons 8-0 in the overtime to earn a spot in tonight's final opposite nemesis Wesleyan.
"That's the way we hoped it would be all game," GAC coach Chan Means said of the overtime period. "We only played that way in spurts, but the girls stepped it up (in the clutch)."
GAC led just 20-18 at halftime and trailed 22-20 midway through the third quarter.
A 15-4 run over the rest of the period - capped by Mollie Mitchell's 3-pointer just before the buzzer - vaulted the Spartans back in front at 35-26.
But GAC managed only two points in the fourth quarter, an 11-2 Paideia run pulled the Pythons (20-6) even and forced overtime.
In the extra frame, the Spartans turned up the defensive pressure, forcing turnovers on Paideia's first six possessions and seven of the first eight before capitalizing on a key basket and three free throws by Briana Jordan.
Jordan finished with a game-high 14 points for GAC, while MItchell added 12.