SALINA, Kan. — After surviving a scare in their opening game at the 2013 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament, the Lady Cardinals have a day off today. They'll use it to begin preparing for a fourth meeting this season with Blinn College in the quarterfinals Thursday at 1 p.m.
The Lady Cardinals (33-1), the tournament's top seed and defending national champion, fell behind 20-6 to 16th-seeded Weatherford in the opening minutes Tuesday afternoon before rallying for a 75-70 win. It improved their season record to 33-1 and closed Weatherford's season at 25-6. The Lady Cardinals were a 93-69 winner against Weatherford back in November.
Shannon Smith pumped in 20 points to lead the Lady Cardinals. Krystle Henderson added 13 and Adut Bulgak and Roddricka Patton netted 10 each. Shlonte' Allen finished with nine.
Bulgak had a big game on the boards, grabbing 15 rebounds.
The Lady Cardinals hit 9 of 26 three-point attempts.
Blinn (32-3), the tournament's No. 9 seed, advanced to Thursday's quarterfinal matchup against the Lady Cardinals with a 79-72 win versus No. 8 seed Darton State.
As the 24-team, single-elimination tournament (for the first time), moves into its third day and the non-Texas side of the bracket, four teams will play their first games. Today's games are Central Arizona vs. Crowder, 1 p.m.; Southern Idaho vs. Chipola, 3 p.m.; Hutchinson vs. ASA, 5 p.m.; Walters State vs. Northwest Florida, 7 p.m.
Here are the seeds of the teams remaining in the tournament: TVCC (1), Central Arizona (2), Hutchinson (3), Gulf Coast (4), Shelton State (5), Walters State (6), Southern Idaho (7), Blinn (9), Chipola (10), Northwest Florida (11), Crowder (15), and ASA (19). Central Arizona, Hutchinson, Shelton State and Walters State have yet to play a game.
In Tuesday's other games, it was: ASA 74, Western Nebraska 68; Northwest Florida 57, Itawamba 46; Gulf Coast 62, Midland 57; and Shelton State 72, Williston State 57.
Tuesday's win against Weatherford ran the Lady Cardinals' national tournament record to 50-16.
Like they always do, Cardinal cheerleaders and the Cardinal Regiment Pep Band livened up the Bicentennial Center. With their presence and peformances, comments along press row were how much it had given the event a big-time feel.
Texas A&M head women's basketball coach Gary Blair was in attendance at Tuesday's games, as was Oklahoma State head women's coach Jim Littell. Word is that Texas head women's basketball coach Karen Aston will also be making an appearance at the event.
Also on hand for the Lady Cardinals' game were John and Mary Margaret Budke, the parents of Kurt Budke, the former Lady Cardinal, Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma State coach, who was killed in a plane crash in November of 2011. The Budkes are regulars at the tournament, which has been played in their hometown of Salina since 1998.
All Lady Cardinal tournament games will be available for viewing online at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com. In fact, all tournament games will be webcast. Also, for audio only, you can hear the games at www.KSAL.com.
You can also keep up with the Lady Cardinals at the tournament in the Athens Daily Review. Joe Elerson is in Salina for the Review. Check it out online at www.athensreview.com.
Also, follow updates on the Lady Cardinals on Twitter at @TVCCsports.
It’s 25 and clear in Salina this morning. The high is expected to reach 52 today, which will make it the warmest day the rest of the week. Thursday's high is forecast to be 48 with a 30 percent chance of rain. Rain/snow shower are still in the forecast for Friday and Saturday with highs in the upper 30s.
To all our family and friends back home, resume breathing. The Lady Cardinals are alive and well.