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Florida falls to Vanderbilt with leading scorer out

13 Vanderbilt 94, 22 Florida 72: Rhonda Blades led five Vanderbilt players in double figures with 23 points as the Commodores advanced to the championship game of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn. Vanderbilt (23-6) will play No. 1 Tennessee (28-1) for the third time this season tonight, with the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake. Florida's leading scorer, Merlakia Jones, was suspended from Sunday's game after being ejected for fighting in Saturday's quarterfinal against Auburn. Freshman DeLisha Milton did her best to take up the slack with 29 points and 12 rebounds, but Florida (22-6) never got closer than seven points in the second half.

Florida Southern 59, North Florida 53: Cindy Shannon's three-pointer with 52 seconds left snapped a 53-53 tie in the Sunshine State Conference championship game, giving Florida Southern (23-6) its first NCAA Division II tournament bid. Shannon scored 17 points and was named the conference tournament MVP. Tampa (21-6) also earned its first invitation to the NCAA Tournament, even though it lost 64-63 to UNF in Saturday's semifinal game. The Spartans are seeded second in the region and will play the winner of the play-in game between North Alabama and LeMoyne-Owen (Tenn).

_ TIMES WIRES

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