Top-seed Gulf Coast State holds off late charge from Georgia Highlands for 71-64 victory
LUBBOCK, Texas – Kristina King scored a game-high 26 points, and top-seeded Gulf Coast State College held off an upset bid by No. 16 seed Georgia Highlands College, 71-64, in the second round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship on Tuesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
“Number one, very thankful to be back in the national tournament. Number two, even more thankful that we got past the first-round game against a team that we’re very familiar with,” Gulf Coast head coach Roonie Scovel said. “I think we just dug down and got a rebound, made a stop. On the other side of that, they didn’t make plays. They made a lot of plays to the point where maybe they take over the game, but they’d didn’t. It wasn’t so much us making stops as them not making the plays.”
With the win, Gulf Coast (28-1) advances to the Elite 8 to face either eighth-seeded Walters State College or ninth-seed Midland College on Thursday at 1 p.m. CDT.
Audrey-Ann Caron Goudreau chipped in 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for the Lady Commodores while Maria A. Morales-Castro added 12 points.
It was anything but clean for the top seed, however. Gulf Coast committed 21 turnovers and, despite a distinct size advantage inside with Goudreau and King, managed to outrebound Georgia Highlands (26-10) by just one, 51-50. The Lady Chargers also outscored Gulf Coast in the paint, 36-26.
Gulf Coast built a double-digit lead and maintained it for most of the second half until Georgia Highlands made one last push. A 10-2 run closed the gap to 66-64 with 1:31 to play. But the Lady Commodores scored the last five points of the game to salt it away.
“It thought our kids battled,” Georgia Highlands coach Brandan Harrell said. “We would just get knocked down and get back up and dust ourselves off and get back in the game, then they would stretch it back out and knock us down, and we get back up. Honestly I thought our kids responded and played extremely hard.”
Deana Blankinship led the Lady Chargers with 17 points. Deashia Jones added 12 points and Kayla Carter chipped in 10.
Maybe it was because they had already played a game, but the Lady Chargers came out and took the game to Gulf Coast early, not intimidated by their distinct height advantage inside.
Georgia Highlands took advantage of numerous Gulf Coast turnovers and transition baskets to lead 16-14 at the end of the first half. But the Lady Commodores showed why they are the tournament’s top seed in the second quarter.
A free throw by Amanda Paschal and a 3-pointer from Shaterrika O’Neal kickstarted a 12-0 run and just like that the Lady Commodores held a 28-19 lead with 4:55 to play in the first half. Gulf Coast was able to hold that lead until four quick points from Georgia Highlands allowed the Lady Chargers to close to within 35-29 at the intermission.
King led all scorers with 14 points while grabbing four rebounds for the Lady Commodores while Castro chipped in eight points. Blankinship led Georgia Highlands with nine points, but the Lady Chargers shot just 31.4 percent (11 of 35) from the field in the first 20 minutes.