Gulf Coast State returns to the top of the NJCAA mountain with 63-47 win over Trinity Valley
LUBBOCK, Texas – Roonie Scovel returned to Panama City, Florida and the Gulf Coast State College women’s basketball program last year to care for her ill mother. In the middle of recruiting the 2015-16 team, Scovel’s mother passed away.
Just about a month shy of the one-year anniversary of her mother’s death, Scovel found some closer with a national championship.
Kristina King and Audrey-Ann Caron Goudreau scored 11 of the their 29 combined points during a 13-4 fourth-quarter run, and Gulf Coast State captured its fourth national championship, all under current Scovel, with a 63-47 victory over Trinity Valley Community College at the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Saturday night at the Rip Griffin Center.
“This whole season has been for my mother,” said Roonie, fighting back tears. “Actually this completion is closer for her death. She was so excited. My mother loved this team, she would cook for us. She actually asked me, ‘do you have a nice team?’ I think so, I hope so.”
It is Gulf Coast’s first crown since 2010 and comes after Scovel returned to the school after a two-year absence where she had moved to Alabama. She was the head coach at Gulf Coast for their three previous title runs in 2003, 2008 and 2010.
Gulf Coast (32-1) put the game away with a defining fourth quarter, outscoring Trinity Valley (31-4) 19-11 after a 20-13 third quarter that helped break open a close game at halftime.
Caron Goudreau led all scorers with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, all in the second half, while grabbing 17 rebounds in earning all-tournament honors. King, also an all-tournament team selection, added 13 points and 13 rebounds. The duo were named co-Most Valuable Players of the championship game.
“I thought in the beginning of the game both teams just looked like we were all frozen and couldn’t move,” Scovel said. “It was going to be a matter of whose conditioning program won out, and I thought in the third quarter once we got a little spread, you could see us relax and play better defense, be more aggressive and make plays. It took Audrey a little while to hit those threes but once she did, that was the end.”
Leading 30-29 early in the third quarter, the Lady Commodores took control when Caron Goudreau hit 3-pointers on back-to-back trips down the floor. In between, Trinity Valley’s Naomi Davenport was called for a charge, giving the Gulf Coast the ball back and allowing it to extend its led to 36-29.
After Trinity Valley closed to within 36-32, Gulf Coast closed the third quarter with an 8-4 run and led 44-36 going into the final period.
Gulf Coast led 44-38 when King hit a 15-foot jumper, Raven Fox followed with a steal and layup and Caron Goudreau drained a 3-pointer with 6:30 to play to put Gulf Coast up 51-38. Trinity Valley never got back within double digits the rest of the way.
King and Caron Goudreau’s domination was the driving force for the Lady Commodores for most of the season.
“At first I was nervous to play with Kris because we’d never played together,” said Caron Goudreau, who will play next season at the University of Texas while King moves on to West Virginia. “We’d played against each other in AAU but I didn’t know what kind of players she was. But we really adjusted well. We just kept building on each other and I think that’s what helped the most.”
Christalah Lyons led Trinity Valley with 13 points while Leah Mathis had seven points and 12 rebounds, but the Lady Cardinals shot just 28 percent (18 of 64) from the field and were 6 of 22 from 3-point range.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well at all,” Trinity Valley head coach Gerald Ewing said. “Defensively I thought we played pretty decent and they only shot 30 percent, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the whole, and they’ve got two really good players. Kristina King is amazing and Audrey is pretty good, also.”
Trinity Valley and Gulf Coast each spent four weeks atop the NJCAA poll during regular season, including the final 8 weeks of the season. So it was only fitting it came down to those two schools to decide the national championship.
The first half was about as even as a championship game could get, with neither team establishing themselves for very long if any at all.
It wasn’t until the Lady Commodores went on a 9-0 run early in the second quarter that either team looked in control, with Gulf Coast going up 22-18. But Trinity Valley scored five of the next seven points, getting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key from Leah Mathis to pull to within one going into the intermission.
Gulf Coast came out of the gates and immediately began pushing the ball up court in transition, trying to keep Trinity Valley from getting set defensively and using its length underneath to disrupt the Lady Commodore shooters.
While Gulf Coast had a better shooting night in the first half than Trinity Valley and committed just five turnovers in trying to push the tempo, Trinity Valley was able to make enough plays and outrebounded Gulf Coast 26-22 to keep the game close.
Naomi Davenport led Trinity Valley with nine first-half points and Lyons added six.
King and Ty Purifoy had six points each to lead Gulf Coast in the first 20 minutes.