Kincey helps Gulf Coast knock off Trinity Valley, reach title game, 77-67
LUBBOCK, Texas – All throughout the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships, Gulf Coast State head coach Roonie Scovel has emphasized that someone on her team is going to have to do something out of the ordinary each game for the Commodores to be successful.
Friday night, sophomore guard Nakia Kincey took that to hear.
One of the smallest players on the floor, Kincey came up huge when the Commodores needed it the most. She scored eight of her team-high 18 points during a decisive stretch in the fourth quarter, and Gulf Coast outlasted Trinity Valley Community College, 77-67, in the semifinals of the tournament at the Rip Griffin Center.
Kincey scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half and 10 of those in the fourth quarter to power the Commodores into the championship game for the third time in four years. Gulf Coast will seek its sixth national championship and third title in four years.
“It started rough but when we went in for halftime coach told us that a leader gets her team going,” Kincey said. “I felt that could be me and that it was my time. So, I just told the girls that we’ve got this and started hitting. I just felt like it was my time to take over and take care of my team. I’m not used to doing it, but I felt like I could to it today.”
Alexus Dye added 17 points and grabbed 19 rebounds for the Commodores (26-5), who will face New Mexico Junior College for the championship at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Getting to this point has been a challenge for Gulf Coast, and that was never epitomized more than in this game.
Gulf Coast not only had to get scoring and playmaking from someone who normally doesn’t do so, but also find a way to keep Trinity Valley (29-5) from making plays as well. While the Commodores struggled to do so on the offensive end for the first three quarters, their defense was up to the task.
“We let them control the tempo and I think we were really, really nervous,” Scovel said. “You could just see it was almost like we couldn’t think, we made bad decisions. We just didn’t play Gulf Coast basketball. But we stayed close enough and started pushing in transition, started playing more aggressive defensively, and were able to pull away.”
And each time the Lady Cardinals did go on one of their runs – which more often than not has spelled doom for their opponents – the Commodores were able to answer. Gulf Coat answered three straight 3-pointers from Arleighshya McElroy, who led all scorers with 26 points, in the second quarter with four straight 3-pointers, three by Astou Gaye. When Trinity Valley went on a 11-1 run early in the third quarter, Gulf Coast went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 47 with 1:32 to play.
It wasn’t until Kincey, who averaged 3.1 points per game coming into the night, took over that the Commodores were finally able to make the Lady Cardinals play chase.
“(Brittany Davis) was our operation lockdown that we had on our (scouting report),” McElroy said. “We kept her under her average, but we just let (Kincey) get out there and score the game of her life, and that was very frustrating. We didn’t expect that from here.”
Curtessia Dean added 16 points, 12 coming in the first quarter, and Jasmne Smith added 12 for the Lady Cardinals. But a fourth-quarter scoring drought doomed Trinity Valley, as it hit just 4 of 21 from the field in the fourth quarter.
“We competed, we just didn’t get the stops when we needed them,” Trinity Valley head coach Gerald Ewing said. “They hit some big shots. (Kincey) had the game of her life. That’s just something where players make plays. I said before the game if one of their kids that doesn’t average a lot beats us, then we’ll live with that. But Alexus Dye killed us on the boards. We didn’t box out and we had bad lapses of mental breakdowns.”
From a back-and-forth and momentum perspective, it would be hard to find another game in the entire tournament more entertaining than the first half put on by the Commodores and Lady Cardinals.
Just like she did in the quarterfinals. Dean came out and put the Lady Cardinals on her shoulders early. She scored the first seven of Trinity Valley’s points and had All but four of the Lady Cardinals’ 16 first-quarter points. But she wouldn’t score again the rest of the half.
Gulf Coast, meanwhile, used a 9-2 run late in the first quarter to take only its second lead of the period at 18-16 at the break. The Commodores drained a trio of 3-pointers in the period, but it was just a sign of things to come.
The teams traded runs throughout the next 20 minutes, and Trinity Valley dictated tempo most of that time, but could not maintain that momentum, and Kincey eventually made the Lady Cardinals pay.
“Us being here is great but we want to win it all because, like coach said, we’re here for a reason,” Kincey said. “We want to win it all and we have a point to prove,”