New Mexico Junior College holds off Southern Idaho to reach final four, 63-56
LUBBOCK, Texas – Daiane Machado had a team-high 16 points, and New Mexico Junior College staved off a late rally from the College of Southern Idaho for a 63-56 victory in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Dezirae Hampton added 15 points for the third-ranked Lady Thunderbirds (32-2), who will face No. 1 Gulf Coast State at 5 p.m. CDT Friday for a shot in Saturday’s championship game. NMJC head coach Drew Sanders knows it will take a better effort for 40 minutes than the Lady Thunderbirds had against Southern Idaho.
“Momentum changed several times and they came out in the third quarter with a mission,” Sanders said. “We controlled the first half and they controlled the third quarter, and it got physical. We got out of our offense there for awhile and that hurt us, we were struggling there for awhile with turnovers. Then at the end, we need to control late-game situations a little better.”
Shaniya Mitchell chipped in 10 points for NMJC, which used a 7-0 run midway through the third quarter to break open a close game after Southern Idaho (29-5) had clawed to within 5 from being down 12 at halftime.
Kandiss Barber led all scorers with 19 points for the Golden Eagles and Briana Ororio had 13 in the losing effort.
“When the season’s over you just think about all the good moments you’ve had,” Southern Idaho head coach Randy Rogers said. “I know it’s tough on these kids right now and basketball’s a long season. They competed and I think today, some of the things we did yesterday, and that’s making shots, we didn’t make early and sometimes you can get down on the other end of the floor and give up some easy buckets.”
While both teams shot the ball about the same, the big difference for NMJC came on the boards, where the Lady Thunderbirds outrebounded Southern Idaho 52-31, including a 21-10 advantage on the offensive boards that allowed NMJC to outscore the Golden Eagles 34-18 in the paint.
The game pitting two evenly matched teams had several ebbs and flows throughout the first half, each team taking turns controlling the tempo. But it was a 12-1 run to end the first quarter that put the Lady Thunderbirds up by double digits and forced the Golden Eagles to play from behind.
Five straight points from Machado started the run, and Nycolle Smith finished it with a layup with 2:45 to play in the quarter. The NMJC defense then held Southern Idaho to just one point over the final 5 minutes of the period to lead 17-11 going to the second quarter.
NMJC kept up its barrage in the second quarter as a 9-1 run early put the Lady Thunderbirds up 30-15. Seven quick points from Southern Idaho cut the deficit to 30-22 with just over 2 minutes left in the first half, but NMJC scored seven of the final 10 points of the half to re-establish its lead at 37-25 at the intermission.
Dezirae Hampton and Machado had nine points each to lead the Lady Thunderbirds, who shot 44 percent from the field in the first half while Brianna Ororio had eight to lead Southern Idaho, which shot 32.1 percent and was outrebounded 27-14.