An 11-day wait for the Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals paid off in a 67-53 victory over the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Lady Norse Wednesday at the national tournament.
"The girls played well tonight," third-year coach Gerald Ewing said. "I just hate to have been off for so many days but they responded well to a good team. I was a little surprised because I thought they would be a little more sluggish in the first quarter." They looked like they were ready to play."
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M coach Jim Rowland said he thought having a game under their belt in the tournament would have been an advantage.
"I thought early on in the game we started off well," Rowland said. "We had a couple of kids in foul trouble and that turned the game. I thought the turnover situation was really bad. When you have 20 turnovers it is tough to win a game. Defensively, we played well for the most part. I credit Trinity Valley in being strong, big and athletic."
TVCC advances to face No. 3 seed Chipola in the quarterfinals Thursday at 7 p.m. in the 42nd annual NJCAA Women's National Basketball Championship.
The tournament is being held at the Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University.
Chipola, one of eight at-large teams in the tournament, is 29-4 overall. They defeated Walters State, 70-61, Wednesday.
The Lady Indians defeated TVCC, 78-70, in the second game of the year in classic action in Baton Rouge, La.
"I think for the game we have to stay composed and stay focused," sophomore guard Shakeela Fowler said. "Both teams will have their fair share of runs so it is about who bounces back and makes the least amount of mistakes. We have to take care of the ball and trust each other and lock in and play good defense and we will come out with the win."
The sixth-seeded Lady Cards improved to 28-5 overall in their 82nd national tournament contest.
The Lady Cards are making their 22nd overall and 10th straight appearance at the national tourney.
They are 64-18 at the event and have won 23 of their last 26 tournament games, dating back to the final game of the 2010 event.
NEO, the tournament's No. 11 seed, ended the year at 29-3, including a 73-47 win against No. 22 seed Iowa Western in tournament action Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Norse had won 12 straight games.
In the victory over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, TVCC held NEO to 34-percent shooting for the game.
The main focus was dealing with the size of 6 foot, 2 inch post player Hatty Nawezhi and 6 foot, 5 inch Sara Boric. The duo combined for nine points and 18 rebounds.
Nawezhi finished with seven points and seven rebounds for NEO.
"Basically, we were told to play in front of them and not get buried," sophomore Malayasia McHenry said. "We needed to keep them off the boards and don't let them get going."
Sophomore Shakeela Fowler had a double-double in her first tournament game with 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead four players in double figure scoring.
"It was super exciting but at first I was really anxious," Fowler said. "I was ready to get back on the court and play. I am happy to be here with my teammates and be where everybody thought we wouldn't be right now."
Trinity Valley held a 39-28 lead at the break as the Lady Cardinals shot 50-percent from the field.
NEO went on a run to open the third quarter as they trailed, 39-33, with 8:30 remaining on a 3-pointer by Jennah Coffman off an assist from Maria Delgado.
Coffman finished with a game-high 20 points to go along with four rebounds and one steal. She said she was just trying to do anything she could to keep her team in the game.
Following that basket, the score remained deadlocked until the 5:56 mark of the third quarter as Fowler hit two free throws to get the lead back to eight at 41-33.
The last field goal for NEO came at the 3:58 mark on a 3-pointer by Mariah Green off an assist from Kamry Orr.
(Story courtesy Joe Elerson/Athens Daily Review)