Inside game proves too much for Western Nebraska as Tallahassee CC takes 97-85 win
By George Watson
LUBBOCK, Texas – Nakiah Black came off the bench to score a team-high 31 points, and No. 11 seed Tallahassee Community College used its strong inside game to outlast No. 23 seed Western Nebraska Community College, 97-85, in an opening-round game of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament Tuesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Jamyra McChristine added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Eagles (25-6), who advance to face No. 6 seed Wabash Valley in a second-round game on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
A 12-3 run early in the fourth quarter helped the Lady Eagles break open a 69-all tie and put them up 81-72 with 6:16 to play, then an 8-0 run three minutes later put the game away, giving Tallahassee a 93-79 lead with 2:11 to go.
“I think we just made up our minds,” said Black, who was 10 of 18 from the field and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line. “Coach is always telling us about whoever makes the least amount of mistakes and whoever adjusts better wins, and I think we just adjusted better today.”
The Lady Eagles used their size and athletic ability to dominate the game in the paint. Of the Lady Eagles; 80 field-goal attempts, only 11 came from outside the 3-point arc. Tallahassee scored 60 of its 97 points in the paint and hit 22 of 38 from the free-throw line, outrebounded Western Nebraska (29-5) 53-37, including a 26-14 edge in offensive rebounds, and forced 29 Lady Cougars turnovers.
“Western Nebraska is a great team and they did a lot of things to us in the beginning to stifle us,” Tallahassee head coach Franqua “Q” Bell said. “But overall I felt like if we kept steady on what we were capable of doing that we would persevere. We finally started getting some rebounds and finally started making some free throws.”
Still, Western Nebraska was right there within striking distance at the end. The Lady Cougars answered Tallahassee’s final run with a 6-0 run of its own to pull to within eight at 93-85, but the Lady Eagles put the game away with four free throws inside the final minute of the game.
“They went at us a lot where they just put four people on the baseline and were able to get baskets, and they made some good shots,” Western Nebraska head coach Chad Gibney said. “Then when they missed them sometimes we’d help uphill a little bit and they were able to get some offensive rebounds.”
Karli Seay led all scorers with 33 points off the bench for Western Nebraska while Merle Wiehl added 17 points and Anastacia Johnson 13 in the loss.
Dawn Gipson and Juliunn Redmond scored 14 points apiece for Tallahassee.
Western Nebraska came out to start the game and hit some big shots early, and the first of Seay’s 3-pointers helped spark a 6-0 run midway through the period that gave the Lady Cougars a 13-6 lead.
But Tallahassee quickly responded with four straight points as part of a 13-5 outburst to end the quarter, giving the Lady Eagles a 19-18 lead. A big part of that run came in the final 34 seconds as Black scored six unanswered points for Tallahassee thanks to a pair of steals resulting from full-court pressure defense.
A putback by McChristine pushed the lead to 21-18 before Western Nebraska answered to start the second quarter, getting a 3-pointer and a free throw from Seay to put the Lady Cougars back on top.
The lead went back and forth from there until Western Nebraska got a Seay layup and two free throws from Giovanna Silva to go up 40-35. But Tallahassee closed the half with a 6-1 run, four of those points coming on free throws from Black, who led the Lady Eagles with 16 points in the first two periods.