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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Last year, the Stuttgart Lady Stallions used 3-pointers to claim the U.S. Forces Europe women’s basketball championship. Sunday, they employed a different weapon in repeating as women’s champs with a 2-0 forfeit victory over the injury-depleted Ramstein Lady Rams in their if-necessary game of the 2012 tournament.

“We’d have preferred to play,” said Stutttgart coach Nakia Maxon after electing to accept the forfeit when just four Lady Rams were suited up at game time. Their fifth player, Monica Mason, was late for having the temerity to attend church on Easter Sunday.

“They didn’t think we’d do well in the tournament,” said Mason, who was negotiating the base gate at game time and who had made her objections to scheduling the title games on Easter before the tourney started. “We were the fourth seed. They said, ‘We’ll discuss scheduling when you make the title game.’ ”

The Lady Rams did just that, with a vengeance by hammering Spangsdahlem 52-32 in Saturday’s losers-bracket finale and then forcing Sunday’s if-game with a 61-56 victory Sunday over winners-bracket champion Stuttgart.

Even without Mason, Ramstein put six players on the floor in Sunday’s first game. But Monique Young was carried from the floor with a badly injured ankle in the second half, and game-scoring leader Muneerah Williams, who drained seven three-balls en route to her 23 points, had to leave on business before Game 2. That left the Lady Rams with just four players, pending Mason’s arrival.

“I wish we had waited for her,” said Stuttgart pivot Robin Hess, who led her team with 16 points. “She was at the gate.”

Hess went four-for-five from the line in the late going as the Lady Stallions, who had trailed by as many as 15 points before mounting a 16-6 run over the game’s final 6:21, which proved to be the champs’ final 6:21 of the season.

“When you have an event like this with so much money involved,” USAFE sports director Mike Deckard explained about the forfeit, “you have to have some structure.”


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