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Lady Commodores advance to 4th straight national semifinal

Dustin Kent

LUBBOCK, Tex. — Gulf Coast coach Roonie Scovel said before her team’s trip to Texas for the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship tournament that one of her biggest questions for her players was how well they would handle the pressure of the biggest moments on JUCO basketball’s biggest stage.

In Thursday afternoon’s quarterfinals against No. 10 seed South Plains, the Lady Commodores gave their coach a pretty strong answer. No. 2 Gulf Coast overcame a four-point fourth quarter deficit to sneak by the Lady Texans 68-66 to advance to Friday’s national semifinals.

Alexus Dye had 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead Gulf Coast, while Brittany Davis added 19 points and made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help rally the Lady Commodores.

“Brittany struggled most of the game,” Gulf Coast coach Roonie Scovel said. “She was like 1 for 7 before the fourth quarter. She hits some big shots and made some big plays for us in the fourth quarter. Alexis also hit some big free throws for us late. It was a great team effort. It was just a great game. Both teams made some big plays at big times.”

Neither team led by more than four points in a back and forth first quarter that finished with the Lady Commodores up 18-16. The game was knotted up at 32-32 at the halftime break and the Lady Texans took a three-point edge into the final quarter.

A 3-pointer from Sarah Shematsi gave the Lady Texans a 53-49 lead with 8:59 remaining, but Davis made two straight shots from deep to put Gulf Coast back in front 55-53 with 7:41 to play.

Davis’ third triple answered a three from Gabbie Green to tie it up 58-58, with a two-point bucket from Green again answered with a 3-pointer from Davis to make it 61-60 Lady Commodores with 4:53 on the clock.

A pair of free throws by Keke Hunter allowed South Plains to regain the lead 66-65, but two foul shots from Dye gave it back to Gulf Coast with 1:17 remaining.

South Plains had one last shot after Lya Farcy split a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left to make it 68-66, but a 3-point attempt by Green in the waning seconds fell short.

Gulf Coast will next play Trinity Valley in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m., following Trinity’s 61-49 win over Northwest Florida State. It will be the fourth straight national semifinal appearance for the Lady Commodores, which Scovel said was a great accomplishment for a program flush with great accomplishments.

“Isn’t that amazing?” she said. “We talked to the kids this morning, told them they’ve done a lot of firsts. This is just amazing. For us to go out and play against a great team like South Plains with their crowd, a big crowd, it’s just amazing that we got that win. It was really a great game.”

SOUTH PLAINS (66)

Germond 2 0-0 6, Green 6 0-0 14, Shematsi 4 0-0 11, Hunter 7 3-5 17, Govan 1 0-0 2, Koang 2 3-4 7, Dominguez 1 0-0 3, Robin 3 0-1 6, Morris 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 6-10 66.

GULF COAST (68)

Farcy 0 1-2 1, Dye 9 5-6 23, Davis 5 5-6 19, Mbandu 2 0-0 6, Gaye 1 0-0 3, Marshall 3 0-0 6, Banks 2 0-0 4, Diané 2 0-0 6, Kincey 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 11-14 68.

South Plains 16 16 15 19 — 66

Gulf Coast 18 14 12 24 — 68

3-point field goals: Gulf Coast 9 (Davis 4, Mbandu 2, Diané 2, Gaye), South Plains 8 (Shematsi 3, Germond 2, Green 2, Dominguez). Total fouls: Gulf Coast 14, South Plains 14. Fouled out: none.

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