Gulf Coast uses strong second half to power past Walters State
LUBBOCK, Texas – Troy University signee Alexus Dye led three players in double figures with 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and No. 3 Gulf Coast State opened its NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships run with a 65-51 victory over Walters State College Wednesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Brittany Davis added a team-high 14 points and Lya Farcy chipped in 11 as the Commodores (24-5), who hadn’t played since their state tournament finale on March 9, used an 8-0 run in the second quarter to break open a close game then outscored the Lady Senators (29-5) 12-5 over the final 6:30 of the third quarter to take control of the game.
“We came out and it’s been about 10 days since we played, but we practiced and watched games,” guard Nakia Kincey said. “But coached talked to us about its win or go home, so we knew that we had to play (well) and if we didn’t we would go home, and we didn’t want to do that.”
But Walters State would not go away easily. Trailing by 18 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Senators put together their own run, scoring seven straight points to pull to within 59-48 and force Gulf Coast into a timeout. But it would be as close as the Lady Senators would get.
Gulf Coast was able to build its lead thanks to its work inside. The Commodores outscored the Lady Senators 44-16 in the paint, leading Gulf Coast to shoot 58 percent (22 of 38) from the field through the first three quarters. The Commodores concentrated on double-teaming Memphis signee Dulcy Fankam Mendijiadu, with sophomore Ole Miss signee Dominque Banks, and it worked, limiting her to seven points and six rebounds.
“I just thought about playing my role,” Banks said. “I new I had to defender he to stop them from winning, and that’s what we did.”
Scovel said she’d only used Banks in the starting lineup a couple of times this year, and Wednesday was one of them.
“I thought Dom was like the enforcer,” Scovel said. She took two or three charges against their best player, she blocked shots, she was the enforcer in the paint, and then everybody else played their role. We win by committee and today we did that.”
Diamond Forrest scored 14 points for the Lady Senators, accounting for all but two of their points down low. But no other player for the Lady Senators had more than seven.
Walters State was able to stay within striking distance in the first half but struggled to put the ball in the hole in the second half, shooting just 28 percent from the field after halftime. The Lady Senators had just three baskets in the fourth quarter, and the first of those didn’t come until the 3:42 mark, and by then Gulf Coast held a comfortable 17-point lead.
“We just didn’t do a good job,” Walters State head coach Dave Kragel said. “The kids played hard. We’ve pretty much been an inside club all year, and we’ve also had to, because of our size, play a lot of zone all year long. But to play Gulf Coast you have to play them man, and we made some mistakes there.”
Gulf Coast was blistering from the field in the first half, hitting on 60 percent (15 of 25) shots from the field and held a 24-10 advantage over Walters on points in the paint.
But that didn’t deter the Lady Senators, who got a 3-pointer from Jamya Rogers and consecutive layups from Diamond Forrest to get the lead back under double digits. After a pair of Gulf Coast buckets, Jalayah Manning and Zacharyia Esmon drained 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor, and just like that the Gulf Coast lead was down to six at 34-28.
Walters State could not built on that run, however, as the Commodores took command in the third quarter and held on from there.