LUBBOCK – Alexis Bryant scored a team-high 19 points, and No. 15 seed San Jacinto-North got off to a blazing start and dominated in the paint to take a 62-51 victory over No. 19 seed Hutchinson Community College in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament on Monday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Maddison Glass added 12 points for the Lady Gators (25-10), who used a 10-0 run early in the first quarter to jump out to a big lead they would not relinquish, though the Blue Dragons (27-7) certainly tried.
“I thought we did a good job defending from the very beginning,” San Jacinto head coach Kayla Weaver said. “Scoring came a little bit easier at the beginning and I thought we got a little stagnant in the second quarter and struggled to score as much. Alexis played well, we got the ball inside and that was part of our gameplan. They made a run on us late and we knew they would because they’re a good team, but we were able to sustain and make plays down the stretch.”
Dejanae Roebuck, who led Hutchinson with 24 points and 12 rebounds, hit a bucket 1:46 into the game, but the Blue Dragons would not hit another until almost 8 minutes later, and by then San Jacinto had a comfortable lead that stood at 18-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Hutchinson was ice cold from the floor in the first half, shooting just 15 percent (3 of 20), which included hitting just one of 12 3-point attempts in the first half. That allowed San Jacinto to hold a 30-17 lead at the intermission.
Bryant was a force down low for the Lady Gators as Hutchinson struggled to contain her. She shot 9 for 11 from the floor while also chipping in five rebounds and three steals.
“We were a little bit taller and a little bigger, so I thought that was an advantage for us,” Bryant said. “Once we started going inside that opened things up outside for the guards to shoot, so I think that helped us, big-time.”
Hutchinson, however, did find its stroke late in the game and used a 7-0 run to pull to within four at 47-43, with Roebuck converting a traditional three play. But San Jacinto answered by scoring the next eight points of the game to re-establish a double-digit lead, and the Blue Dragons wouldn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way.
“We got off to not a very good start,” Hutchinson coach John Ontjes said. “We shot 15 percent in the first half and really struggled to make a basket. But I’m proud of the kids for how they fought back in the second half and got it to four. We just did a much better job in the second half offensively and defensively. But when you get to this point, if you can’t play a quality 40 minutes that makes it difficult to win.”
Tia Bradshaw chipped in 12 points for the Blue Dragons.
San Jac opened the game by overwhelming Hutchinson, racing out to a 12-2 lead thanks to a quick 10-0 run. Bryant was the catalyst for the Lady Gators in the first half, scoring 13 points in the first two periods, and she capped the run with a free throw to put her team up by 10 midway through the first quarter.
The Lady Gators extended that lead to 18-6 at the end of the period on a long jumper by Eryka Sidney, then a Bryant layup early in the second made it 20-6. Hutchinson struggled to climb back into the game, hitting just 15 percent (3 of 20) from the field in the first half and just 8.3 percent (1 of 12) from the 3-point arc.
Hutchinson’s saving grace was its ability to get to the free-throw line, where it hit 10 of 14 compared to just 2 of 4 for San Jac. The Blue Dragons also outrebounded the Lady Gators 21-13, but San Jac still dominated on the scoring end, getting 20 of their 30 first-half points in the paint.
Hutchinson got within 11 at 28-17 late in the first half but couldn’t close the gap further as Bryant hit a layup with 27.6 seconds left in the second quarter, then clamped down defensively on Hutchinson to hold the 30-17 lead at halftime.
Roebuck led Hutchinson with nine first-half points.