AT THE NJCAA TOURNAMENT: Saturday

AT THE NJCAA TOURNAMENT: Saturday
Championship Saturday has arrived.
Twenty-four teams came to Lubbock in search of a NJCAA women's basketball national championship. As the day dawns, the dream remains alive for just two.The sixth-seeded Lady Cards and defending national champion and top-seeded Gulf Coast Community College will settle the matter on the Rip Griffin Center court tonight at 7 in the title game, which is a rematch of last year's championship clash -- a 63-47 Gulf Coast win.
The Lady Cards (30-5) advanced to their sixth championship game in the last seven years with a 68-66 semifinal win against No. 10 seed Shelton State. Gulf Coast (33-2) turned back No. 5 seed Salt Lake for an 80-66 win in the other semifinal Friday night.
Tonight's championship game will be available online at njcaatv.com.With the win against Shelton State, which was a rematch of a 61-56 semifinal win last year, the Lady Cards, in their 10th straight national tournament appearance and 22nd overall, raised their national tournament record to 66-18. Tonight's championship game will mark their 85th national tournament game. In clinching a berth in their 13th national title game, the Lady Cards upped their national semifinal record to 13-1.
Here are the year-by-year records and finishes for the Lady Cards at the national tournament:
1980 -- 1-2
1981 -- 1-2
1982 -- 3-1 (7th)
1994 -- 4-0 (1st)
1995 -- 3-1 (2nd)
1996 -- 4-0 (1st)
1997 -- 4-0 (1st)
1998 -- 3-1 (2nd)
1999 -- 4-0 (1st)
2002 -- 3-1 (7th)
2004 -- 4-0 (1st)
2006 -- 2-2 (6th)
2008 -- 1-2
2009 -- 3-1 (7th)
2010 -- 2-2 (6th)
2011 -- 3-1 (2nd)
2012 -- 4-0 (1st)
2013 -- 4-0 (1st)
2014 -- 4-0 (1st)
2015 -- 3-1 (3rd)
2016 -- 3-1 (2nd)
2017 -- 3-0 (???)
Tonight's game will also be a rematch of the 2004 title game, a 77-66 Lady Card win.
The Lady Cards are 2-1 vs. Gulf Coast in national tournament play, the other win being a 75-71 in the semifinals in the 2013 tournament.
With eight national titles to their credit, the Lady Cards lead the way in the 42-year history of the tournament. Here are the schools with multiple titles:
8 -- TVCC
4 -- Central Arizona, Gulf Coast
3 -- Odessa, Kilgore
2 -- Panola, Louisburg
Gulf Coast is attempting to become the third school to win back-to-back national titles, joining Panola (1977 and 1978) and the Lady Cards (1996 and 1997 and 2012 and 2013). The Lady Cards also added a national title in 2014 to become the only school to win three straight titles.
In Friday's win against Shelton State, Naomi Davenport scored 20 points, including a clutch putback of a missed free throw with 36 seconds left. Davenport also had four three-pointers and nine rebounds. Christalah Lyons had 15 points and five rebounds. Also scoring in double figures were Shakeela Fowler with 12 and Malayasia McHenry 10. Fowler had five assists.
The Lady Cards led 35-27 at the half and built a 48-36 lead late in the third quarter before Shelton State answered with an 11-0 run into the fourth quarter to get back into the game. Shelton State led 63-62 with 1:07 to go in the game.
Friday night's win against Shelton State secured the Lady Cards' 20th 30-win season and was their 24th win at the national tournament in the last 27 games.
Salt Lake (30-5) and Shelton State (33-3) will square off in the third-place game today at 4:30 p.m.
It is 42 in Lubbock this  morning. The forecast for today is sunny and 75 and a lot less windy than Friday, when sustained winds were between 25-45 mph.
OK, Lady Card fans, we've been here before. It's Championship Saturday. Put on your red and send positive thoughts and vibes to the Lady Cards.
-- BENNY ROGERS
FRIDAY
It's Final Four Friday.

The sixth-seeded Lady Cards are among the four teams still alive at the 2017 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament after a  65-60 win against No. 3 seed Chipola in action Thursday night at Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University.

The Lady Cards (29-5) are scheduled to take on Shelton State, the tournament's 10th seed, in a rematch from the semifinals a year ago at 7 tonight. Shelton State (33-2) won its way to the semifinals with an 81-66 win against No. 2 Odessa. 

The Lady Cards are 2-1 against Shelton State in national tournament games, having won 61-56 last year in the Final Four, 66-59 in the 2012 national championship season and lost 81-60 in 2008.

In the other half of the bracket, No. 1 and defending national champion Gulf Coast turned back No. 8 Seward County for an 83-72 win and No. 5 Salt Lake staged a late rally to score an 81-75 win against No. 13 Jones County. Gulf Coast (32-2) and Salt Lake (30-4) play today at 5 p.m.

Tonight's semifinal winners will play for the national championship at 7 p.m. Saturday. The third-place game, featuring the semifinal losers, is set for 4:30 p.m. before the title game.

The Lady Cards, in their 22nd national tournament appearance, have reached the semifinals for a 14th time and for a seventh straight year. They are 12-1 in the Final Four, the lone loss being to Chipola in 2015.

Thursday night's quarterfinal win against Chipola was the 65th national tournament win for the Lady Cards. They are now 65-18.

Christalah Lyons and Shakeela Fowler combined to hit four clutch free throws in the final 17 seconds to seal the win against Chipolah. The Lady Cards, who led 22-15 after one quarter, overcame a 32-31 halftime deficit with an 18-11 scoring edge in the third quarter.

Naomi Davenport had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the Lady Cards. Lyons finished with 14 and Fowler had 12. Fowler also had five assists.

Jordan Alexander and Ashley Murray made key contributions off the bench. Alexander had nine points and five rebounds and Murray had four points and eight rebounds.

Don't forget, you can watch tonight's semifinals online at www.njcaatv.com.

It's 47 in Lubbock this morning. The high is expected to reach 69. For a second straight day, a high wind alert is in effect.

OK, Lady Card fans wear the red today!

-- BENNY ROGERS



 

THURSDAY

And then there were eight.

The stakes become higher at the 2017 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament today with quarterfinal action. At stake is advancement to the semifinals on Friday and a guarantee to be around Saturday for either the championship or third-place game.

The sixth-seeded Lady Cards secured their quarterfinal berth Wednesday night with a 67-53 win against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, the tournament's 11th seed. Using a 14-3 run late in the first half, they built a 39-28 halftime lead and had the game in hand the rest of the way.

The Lady Cards were led by Shakeela Fowler's double-double. The 5-4 sophomore point guard tossed in 15 points to lead all Lady Cards and also grabbed 11 rebounds.

Also scoring in double figures for the Lady Cards were Naomi Davenport with 14, Malayasia McHenry 13 and Christalah Lyons 12.

 Defensively, the Lady Cards forced 20 NEO turnovers, scoring 24 points.The win improved third-year head coach Gerald Ewing's squad to 28-5 on the season. The win also raised the Lady Cards' national tournament record to 64-18.

Wednesday's win also kept the Lady Cards' streak alive for never having gone winless in 22 trips to the national tournament.

No. 3 seed Chipola, now 28-4, punched its ticket to the quarterfinals with a 70-61 decision against No. 14 seed Walters State.Tonight's TVCC-Chipola game will be a rematch of a game played in Baton Rouge, La., back in November. Chipola won that one, 78-70.

The Lady Cards and Chipola have played twice in national tournament action. Chipola scored an 85-80 quarterfinal win in 2006 and a 62-48 win in the semifinals in 2015, the Lady Cards' only loss in 13 semifinal national tournament contests.

Here are Wednesday's scores (seedings in parenthesis):

(13) Jones County 91, (4) Hutchinson 82

(5) Salt Lake 57, (21) Cochise 48

(3) Chipola 70, (14) Walters State 61

(6) TVCC 67, (11) NEO 53

Here are Thursday's quarterfinals (seeding in parenthesis):

1 p.m. -- (1) Gulf Coast vs. (8) Seward County 

3 p.m. -- (2) Odessa vs. (10) Shelton State

5 p.m. -- (5) Salt Lake vs. (13) Jones County

7 p.m. -- (3) Chipola vs. (6) TVCC

The Gulf Coast-Seward County winner will face the Salt Lake-Jones County winner in the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. The Odessa-Shelton State winner takes on the Chipola-TVCC winner at 7 p.m.Saturday, the two losing teams will square off in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m. The championship game is set for 7 p.m.

You can watch all tournament games online at www.njcaatv.com.

It's 63 in Lubbock this morning. Today's high is expected to reach 83 with a 20 percent chance of a shower. A wind advisory is in effect with winds expected to be between 20-40 mph. Rain chances increase to 50 percent tonight.

Have a great Thursday and send positive thoughts to the Lady Cards.

-- BENNY ROGERS

 

WEDNESDAY

Cue the band. The Lady Cards are ready to dance!

After being spectators for two days at the 2017 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament in Lubbock, the Lady Cards will finally under be under the bright lights above the Rip Griffin Center tonight at 7. They are scheduled to make their tournament debut against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

The sixth-seeded Lady Cards bring a 27-5 record into their 82nd national tournament contest. NEO, the tournament's No. 11 seed, is 29-2, including a 73-47 win against No. 22 seed Iowa Western in tournament action Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Norse have won 12 straight games.

The Lady Cards are making their 22nd overall and 10th straight appearance at the national tourney. They are 63-18 at the event and have won 22 of their last 25 tourney games, dating back to the final game of the 2010 event.

The sophomore-laden Lady Cards have four returning players with national tourney playing experience. Naomi Davenport, Christalah Lyons, Rainey Kuykendall and Malayasia McHenry were members of last year's 31-4 squad that finished second, losing 63-47 to Gulf Coast in the championship game.

The TVCC-NEO winner advances to face the Chipolah-Walters State winner in the quarterfinals Thursday at 7 p.m. Chipolah, one of eight at-large teams in the tournament, is the No. 3 seed with a 27-4 record. Walters State, the No. 14 seed, is 26-6 after a 71-63 win against Tyler Tuesday morning.

In Tuesday's games, it was:

Walters State 71, Tyler 63

NEO 73, Iowa Western 47

Gulf Coast 88, Harford 70

Seward County 87, South Plains 69

Odessa 58, South Georgia Tech 44

Shelton State 79, Tallahassee 78

Here is today's schedule:

1 p.m. -- Hutchinson vs. Jones County

3 p.m. -- Salt Lake vs. Cochise

5 p.m. -- Chipola vs. Walters State

7 p.m. -- TVCC vs. NEO

You can watch tonight's TVCC-NEO game online, as well as all tournament games, online at www.njcaatv.com.

Former Lady Card assistant coach (2013) Aaron Kallhoff, now an assistant at TCU, is in attendance at the tournament.

Tip for fans planning to attend Lady Card games: Bring a light jacket, as it is kept quite chilly in the Rip Griffin Center.

It's 54 in Lubbock this morning. The high is expected to reach 76, quite cooler than the past two days which featured 90-degree temperatures. It is forecast to be partly cloudy today.

You know the national tournament gameday routine: Wear red and send positive thoughts and vibes to the Lady Cards.

-- BENNY ROGERS

 

TUESDAY

Day 2 of the 2017 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament dawns with another full slate of six games on tap.

Still no sixth-seeded Lady Cards on the Rip Griffin Center court today. They continue to practice in preparation for their first game at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the second round against the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M-Iowa Western winner. NEO, the 11th seed with a 28-2 record) and Iowa Western, the No. 22 seed with a 28-4 record, play today at noon.

Six teams saw their national title hopes live on in Monday's action.Here are the scores from the opening day:

Harford 80, San Jacinto 72

South Plains 85, Monroe 73

South Georgia Tech 65, Motlow State 56

Shelton State 61, North Dakota SCS 48

Jones County 64, Western Nebraska 42

Cochise 96, Wabash Valley 75

Here are the games on tap today:

10 a.m. -- Walters State vs. Tyler

12 p.m. -- NEO vs. Iowa Western

2 p.m. -- Gulf Coast vs. Harford

4 p.m. -- Seward County vs. South Plains

6 p.m. -- Odessa vs. South Georgia Tech

8 p.m. -- Tallahassee vs. Shelton State

Cardinal Hall of Fame member Danny Hughes, now an assistant women's basketball coach at Massachusetts, was in attendance at Monday's games. Also in attendance with TVCC ties were Spencer Robertson, former Lady Card assistant coach and now an assistant Prairie View A&M, and Alex Furr, an assistant coach at New Mexico Junior College and the daughter of Cardinal head basketball coach Guy Furr. She was also a record-setting all-state basketball player at Athens High School.

Don't forget you can watch all tournament games online at www.njcaatv.com. You can also keep up with coverage of the tournament in the Athens Daily Review. Joe Elerson is at the tournament for the Review.

It's 64 in Lubbock this morning. With a mostly sunny sky, the temperature is expected to climb into the 90s for a second straight day. A cool down is forecast Wednesday with a high only in the upper 70s.

Have a great Tuesday.

-- BENNY ROGERS

 

MONDAY

Fittingly, on the day spring has sprung, the nation's 24 best junior college teams will spring into action.

The 2017 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament begins today at the beaufiul Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University here in Lubbock.  Six games are on tap starting at 10 a.m.

Not among the 12 teams scheduled for action today are the 21-time Region XIV champion Lady Cards. The sixth-seeded Lady Cards, who received a first round bye, won't see their first action until 7 p.m. Wednesday, when they will face the winner of the opening round Northeastern Oklahoma A&M-Iowa Western game, which is scheduled at noon Tuesday.

Third-year head coach Gerald Ewing and the Lady Cards arrived on the scene in Lubbock at 3:45 p.m. Sunday. Between now and Wednesday's tipoff, they will continue to prepare for the tournament with practices at nearby schools and possibly even Texas Tech.

The Lady Cards, making their 10th straight appearance at the national tournament, and 22nd overall, bring a 27-5 record into the tournament. It also marks the second straight year they enter the event as the No. 6 seed. Last year they advanced to the title game, falling 63-47 to Gulf Coast.

The Lady Cards are one of just seven teams returning to the tournament this year, which is the first year eight at-large teams are participating with 16 regional winners. In the past four years, the tournament consisted of the regional winners, four zone qualifiers and four at-large teams.

Teams returning from the 2016 tournament, in addition to the Lady Cards, are Gulf Coast (the No. 1 seed), Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Harford, Walters State, Salt Lake and Shelton State.

Ewing is making this fifth appearance at the national tournament, having served on Elena Lovato's staff in national championship runs in 2013 and 2014. He is 6-2 in games at the tournament as head coach, having led the Lady Cards to a third-place finish in 2015 and last year's national runner-up showing.

Here are the national tournament records for Lady Card head coaches:

Kurt Budke -- 22-2

Michael Landers -- 20-7

Elena Lovato -- 10-2

Kenya Landers -- 7-1

Gerald Ewing -- 6-2

Gary Ashlock -- 5-5

The Lady Cards are 63-18 in national tournament games and owners of eight national titles (1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2012, 2013, 2014). They also have four national runner-up finishes (1995, 1998, 2011, 1016).

All Lady Card tournament games will be availabe for viewing online at www.njcaatv.com. In fact, all tournament games will be webcast.

Fans planning to make the trip to Lubbock later this week will find gas prices a little higher than a year ago. Last year, the average price was $1.77. This year (as of Sunday), the average price is $2.07.Here are the average prices the last 12 trips to the national tournament: 

2004 -- $1.67

2006 -- $2.42

2008 -- $3.11

2009 -- $1.79

2010 -- $2.67 

2011 -- $3.39

2012 -- $3.65

2013 -- $3.46

2014 -- $3.35

2015 -- $2.25

2016 -- $1.77

2017 -- $2.07

It's 63 with a few clouds in Lubbock this morning. The high temperature is expected to reach 93. The weather is forecast to be pleasant and warm all week with the coolest day of the week expected to be Friday when the high reaches 72.

Welcome to spring!

-- BENNY ROGERS