NMJC holds off upset-minded ASA-Brooklyn for 62-59 overtime victory.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Alexes Bryant scored 16 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, and her free throw with 1.6 seconds left in overtime proved to be just enough for the No. 8 seed New Mexico Junior College Lady Thunderbirds to hold off No. 24 seed ASA-Brooklyn, 62-59, on Tuesday in the second round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Basketball Tournament at the Rip Griffin Center.
Danielle Craft chipped in 11 points and 11 rebounds and Jurnee President added 15 points for the Lady Thunderbirds (31-3), who advance to take on No. 1 seed Shelton State Community College in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
The win for NMJC came despite being outrebounded 56-55, including a 31-18 edge on the offensive glass, and committing 21 turnovers. But the NMJC defense also created its share of turnovers and held ASA to just 24 percent shooting (21 of 87) for the game.
“You don’t usually turn the ball over and give up as many offensive rebounds as we did and win,” NMJC head coach Drew Sanders said. “The primary thing was we kept battling though we didn’t’ play well, and you could see we had a pretty good case of the nerves. (ASA’s) length and pressure bother us. We play a lot of freshmen on the perimeter and they really struggled with pressure, but the press then turned the momentum in the fourth quarter and got us back in the game, and we started boarding better.”
Tied at 57 going into the extra period, ASA (22-2) drew first blood with a layup from Kiara Smith, who poured in a game-high 24 points and snared 10 rebounds for the Lady Avengers. But it would be the final points of the year for ASA as NMJC answered with a Bryant layup midway through the period, followed by a jumper from Amanda Maqueia with just under a minute to play to put the Lady Thunderbirds up for good.
ASA had a couple of shots to tie the game. Down 61-59, Smith had a drive blocked out of bounds with one second on the shot clock. But ASA could not get a shot off on the ensuing inbounds play.
After a Bryant free throw made it a three-point game, Smith allowed the inbounds pass to roll and was fouled by Tatiana Wright as she picked up the ball, sending her to the line with 0.4 seconds left. But she missed the first one and intentionally missed the second one, NMJC getting the rebound as time expired.
“I thought we started off a little sluggish, and then we picked up our style of play and tempo in the second and third quarters and controlled the game,” ASA head coach Thomas Davis said. “Their size was going against them and they stayed with it for a long time. It was working in our favor, the two bigs and us matching up. But he went with a different group in the fourth quarter and started pressing, and that’s the first time all year we’ve been pressed like that.”
Troyian Brooks added 27 points for ASA while Adriana Cordoba had nine points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
Both the Lady Avengers and Lady Thunderbirds struggled to shoot the ball effectively. ASA hit just 22 percent from the field despite putting up a whopping 41 shots through two quarters, while NMJC wasn’t much better, hitting 28.1 percent (9 of 32).
ASA also struggled from the 3-point line, hitting just 2 of 15 in the first 20 minutes. And when Jurnee President hit a 3-pointer with 1:53 to play to give the Lady Thunderbirds a 17-9 lead, it appeared they were poised to take control of the game.
But the Lady Avengers closed the first quarter with four straight points from Kiara Smith and trailed by just one at 17-16 on a free throw by Troyian Brooks with 8:31 to play in the first half.
NMJC re-established the lead at 21-16 with 7:00 to play in the half on two free throws from Alexes Bryant before ASA ended the half with an 11-6 run to knot the score at 27 going into halftime.