Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 18, 2014

NJCAA NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: Thumping the Cougars

TVCC advances to third round with a 77-48 win over Western Nebraska

Joe Elerson
The Athens Review

SALINA, KAN. — The No. 1-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals opened up the 2014 NJCAA National Tournament with a 77-48 victory over the Western Nebraska Cougars at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan.

TVCC (33-1) advances to the quarterfinals Thursday at 1 pm. to face Northwest Florida. The Raiders defeated South Georgia Tech 81-80 in overtime.

Tuesday’s game was the 70th Lady Cardinal national tournament game.

They are 54-16 in the event, having won nine titles, including the last two. The Lady Cardinals have played in the last three title games.

The No. 1-seeded Lady Cardinals faced a Western Nebraska team that rallied from a 15-point deficit in the final 3:24 in the opening game of the tournament Monday to score a 63-60 win against State Fair Community College.

TVCC has now won 26 straight games since an early season loss to Chipola in the Women’s NIT Tournament.

Western Nebraska finished the season with a 31-5 record.

TVCC was aggressive defensively to take a 20-point lead midway through the first half of the game.

With 4:50 remaining in the first half of play, TVCC held a 34-18 lead before both teams went on a tough four minute stretch shooting the ball.

LeeLee Grant two free throws for 42 seconds left for a 38-20 lead as TVCC went into the locker room up 40-20.

“I thought the first five minutes was us trying to get the excitement out,” coach Elena Lovato. “I thought we started settling in at that point. I thought we ended up closing the half decently, but I thought there was still some execution problems on offense with us not making the right reads.”

With four minutes remaining in the game, Jasmine Spears went on a breakaway with Roddricka Patton, who gave the ball back Spears for an easy bucket to give TVCC a 66-41 lead.

Lovato said one of the areas she was worried about during the game was the turnovers.

The Lady Cardinals committed 17 turnovers in the game, compared to 21 for the Cougars.

“I think we had seven turnovers at the half and then we had 10 in the second half of play,” Lovato said. “Decision making has been our issue most of the year and when we have numbers we are not taking advantage of converting.”

TVCC finished the game shooting 30-of-60 from the field for 50-percent. They also shot 12-of-21 for 57 percent.

Another area TVCC dominated in the game was points in the paint as the Lady Cardinals outscored Western Nebraska, 44-12.

Bulgak led the way for the Lady Cardinals with a double-double of 15 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

“I think Adut is on a mission with trying to catch the junior college national player of the year,” Lovato said. “I think she did great defensively.”

LeeLee Grant added 14 points, eight rebounds and one assists, Jazmine Spears added 12 points, five rebounds and one assists, while Shlonte Allen and Deborah Meeks rounded out the double figure scoring with 11 points each.

Allen also had one assists and three rebounds, while Meeks added one rebound and one assists.

TVCC 77,

Western Nebraska 48

W. Nebraska    20    28     -- 48    

TVCC     40    37     -- 77    

W. Nebraska (48) -- Abi Lujan 5; Ashley Stevens 8; Lile Havili 8; Lauren Rivera 7; Shalisa Moffit 15, Liz Dogan 3; Angela Vigil 2.

TVCC(77) -- Adut Bulgak 15; Jazmine Spears 12; Deborah Meeks 11; Roddricka Patton 3; Autummn Williams 4; Sylvia Smith-Gatson 7; LeeLee Grant 14; Shlonte’ Allen 11.

Total Rebounds -- W. Nebraska 39. TVCC 49.

Free Throws -- W. Nebraska 16-20. TVCC 12-21.

Assists -- W. Nebraska 9. TVCC 19.

Blocked Shots -- W. Nebraska 1. TVCC 4.

Turnovers -- W. Nebraska 21. TVCC 17.

Points off turnovers -- W. Nebraska 11. TVCC 26.

Total Fouls -- W. Nebraska 16. TVCC 19.

Fouled Out -- W. Nebraska none. TVCC none.

Technicals -- W. Nebraska none. TVCC none.