Athens Daily Review
The No. 1-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals survived a ferocious attack by the No. 11-ranked Tyler Junior College Lady Apaches in a 72-62 win at UT-Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center.
“Tyler has a great team and they definitely challenged us in the game tonight,” coach Elena Lovato said.
With the win, the Lady Cardinals (32-1) head into the national tournament March 17-22 as the two-time defending national champions.
The Lady Cards also won their seventh straight regional title game and have played in the title game in 20 of the past 22 years.
Sophomore Adut Bulgak was named the tournament MVP, while Jazmine Spears and Autummn Williams were named all-tournament.
In the first half of play, the Lady Cardinals came out with a slow start as they trailed 14-9 with just under 14 minutes remaining.
The Lady Cards trailed, 38-30, to Tyler Junior College at the half as they were able to cut into a double digit lead during the first half.
“It was real tough and I guess we were nervous and rushing and we needed to slow down and let the game come to us,” Spears said. “We needed to box out and they were leading us in rebounds. We wanted to also be able to find ways to get to the free throw line.”
Coco Baker gave TVCC its first lead of the game in the second half nailing one of two free throws for a 45-44 lead with 12:57 remaining.
Lovato said the Lady Cards were having trouble with their half court trap during the game.
“We wanted to implement our half court trap from the beginning and we were struggling with it,” Lovato said. “I thought my bigs did a good job on blocking out and owning the boards in the second half.”
Bulgak said the talk in the locker room was positive in getting them ready to pick up the win.
“Everyone was on the same page when we got in the locker room and we knew that we needed each other,” Bulgak said. “They definitely had a sense of urgency and they wanted to give us their best shot.”
Spears finished with a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Bulgak added 11 points and six rebounds.
Leashja Grant added 10 points and nine rebounds off of the bench for TVCC. Roddricka Patton had eight points and eight rebounds.