Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 21, 2014

NJCAA NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: One step closer

Lady Cards advance with 94-63 blowout of NW Florida

Benny Rogers/TVCC Sports Information
The Athens Review

SALINA, KAN. — One step closer.

The Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals stormed into the semifinals of the 2014 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament Thursday afternoon with a 94-63 blowout of the Northwest Florida State College Lady Raiders.

With their 27th straight win and 10th straight national tournament win, Coach Elena Lovato's squad advanced to play Central Arizona in the semis tonight at 6 p.m. at the Bicentennial Center. Central Arizona was an 86-74 winner against Blinn in quarterfinal action.

“Our kids stepped up and responded to the challenge against a very solid team,” Lovato said. “We put in a lot of new things for the game and they executed them very well.”

The Lady Cardinals will carry a 34-1 record into the semis, where they are 10-0 in their previous 18 national tournament appearances.

TVCC led from start to finish, jumping out to a 5-0 advantage. The Lady Raiders pulled within two four times in the opening 9:31 of the first half before the Lady Cardinals began to pull away.

Adut Bulgak, who has named a finalist for the WBCA Player of the Year award, paced the Lady Cardinals early on, thanks, large in part, to point guard Roddricka Patton. Bulgak finished with 14 points (all in the first half) and nine rebounds.

The Lady Cardinals attacked Northwest Florida's zone defense to near perfection, resulting in five players scoring in double figures.

“We executed our zone offense really well,” Lovato said. “Our offense feeds our defense. You would think it would be the other way around, but it isn't with us.”

Whatever it was, the Lady Cardinals dished out a Texas-sized case of defense, holding the Lady Raiders to 10 points in the final 7:49 and opening up a 43-30 halftime lead.

The onslaught continued to start the second half with the Lady Cardinals outscoring Northwest Florida 25-10 in the opening 10:15, resulting in a 68-40 advantage. The Lady Cardinals held the Lady Raiders to just two field goals during that span.

With the issue long decided from that point on, the game became a free throw shooting contest.

Sylvia Smith-Gatson led the TVCC scoring with 17 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Shlonte' Allen had 16, Autummn Williams 11 and Jazmine Spears 10. Deborah Meeks netted nine and Patton had eight to go along with seven assists.

Spears had 10 rebounds to lead the Lady Cardinals in a 46-39 advantage on the boards.

The Lady Cardinals were 24 of 38 from the free throw line. Smith-Gatson was 9 of 15.

Carla Batchelor led Northwest Florida with 18 points. Simone Westbrook had 15, Lindsay Jennings 13 and Alyssa Dupree 10.

The Lady Cardinals are now 55-16 in national tournament games.

The TVCC-Central Arizona semifinal will be a rematch of last year's title game.

LADY CARDINALS 94, LADY RAIDERS 63

NORTHWEST FLORIDA (63) -- Carla Batchelor 16, Tyshara Fleming 2, Alyssa Dupree 10, Lindsay Jennings 13, Simone Westbrook 15, Aliyah Smith 3, Brittany Martin 2

TVCC (94) -- Adut Bulgak 14, Jazmine Spears 10, Roddricka Patton 8, Deborah Meeks 9, Autummn Williams 11, Sylvia Smith-Gatson 17, Shlonte' Allen 16, LeeLee Grant 4, Julianne Anchling 2, Dominique Brooks 3

Three-Pointers: Northwest Florida 3-19 - Dupree (2), Westbrook 1; TVCC 6-25 - Smith-Gatson (2), Meeks (2), Spears, Williams

Turnovers: Northwest Florida 24; TVCC 16

Free Throws: Northwest Florida 18-27; TVCC 24-38 (Smith-Gatson 9-15)

Team Fouls: Northwest Florida 23; TVCC 23

Fouled Out: Northwest Florida- none; TVCC-none

Technical Fouls: Northwest Florida-none; TVCC-none

Season Records: Northwest Florida 26-7; TVCC 34-1.