Seward County staves off late charge from South Georgia Tech for 88-81 victory
By George Watson
LUBBOCK, Texas – Mollie Mounsey scored a game-high 24 points, and No. 7 Seward County drained 17 of 32 from 3-point range, just enough to hold off a furious rally from No. 23 South Georgia Tech for an 88-81 victory in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Basketball Tournament Tuesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Carla Covane added 13 points and Silvia Veloso chipped in 10 points in the win for the Lady Saints (31-3), who led 52-40 at halftime but watched as the Lady Jets (29-6) slowly chip away at the lead throughout the second half, eventually taking an 81-79 lead with 2:19 to play.
But it would be the last points scored by South Georgia Tech. Veloso converted a three-point play with 1:55 left to give Seward the lead for good, and the Lady Saints finished the game on a 9-0 run to secure the win.
“We knew there was no quit in their team after watching them against Casper,” Seward head coach Toby Wynn said. “I just told the team that they have to keep playing and we can’t relax for a moment because they’re going to keep coming at us, and that’s what they did. They really made us have to bear down a little bit, execute and make some big key plays, and fortunately our players rose to the occasion and made those.”
The Lady Jets watched as Seward was lights out from the 3-point arc in the first half, hitting 12 of 22 from beyond the arc in the first half. South Georgia Tech changed its defense and stopped switching off players while extending that defense to the 3-point line, and the strategy worked.
That strategy also allowed the Lady Jets to get back into the game offensively, especially at the free-throw line where they were 23 of 26 for the game, including 18 of 20 in the second half. The Lady Jets twice closed to within four in the third quarter and trailed by just five going into the fourth. Down 79-73, South Georgia Tech went on an 8-0 run to take its final lead of the game before Seward closed the game strong.
“I’m proud of our effort and proud of our kids,” South Georgia Tech head coach James Frey said. “We’ve got to kick this door down eventually. Losing in the Sweet 16 I think is getting a little contagious, I’m afraid. We had a couple of turnovers late and bad possessions, and we just didn’t finish it. Two Seward’s credit … they finished the deal and I hope they go on and win the whole thing. But I couldn’t be prouder of my team and the effort they gave.”
Ricka Jackson and Esther Adenike each led the Lady Jets with 18 points, with Adenike pulling down 13 rebounds. Houfat Mahouchiza added 15 points and Dakata Toney chipped in 14 points in the loss.
Seward, which entered the tournament leading the nation in 3-pointers attempted (31.3 per game) and 3-pointers made (11.1 per game), showed why. Four of the Lady Saints’ first eight field goals were from beyond the arc, and they kept that barrage up in the second quarter, hitting 9 of 13 from long range.
South Georgia Tech, meanwhile, countered with its inside game, outscoring Seward 42-18 on points in the paint for the game. But after getting to the free throw line with ease in the first three quarters, the Lady Jets did not make a trip to the line in the final period despite their tremendous comeback.
Mounsey drained a pair of threes in the final minute that helped Seward extend its lead to 12 at halftime, but she had just one more 3-pointer the rest of the game.