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NMJC Women Advance with Overtime Win

NMJC Women Advance with Overtime Win photo 3/21/2018 9:34:55 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. [Jason Farmer - Hobbs News Sun]

LUBBOCK – As New Mexico Junior College women’s basketball coach Drew Sanders was walking out of the media room, he said an ugly win is better than a pretty loss. The coach couldn’t have stated it better Tuesday evening as the Lady Thunderbirds beat ASA Brooklyn 62-59 in overtime in the Rip Griffin Center to advance to the Elite 8 of the NJCAA Women’s National Basketball Championship.

“The ending was good,” Sanders said. “You don’t usually turn the ball over and give up that many offensive rebounds and win. But the key is we kept battling. We didn’t play well and you could see we had a pretty good case of the nerves. (ASA’s) length and pressure bothered us. … But, from an offensive stand point, that is about as ugly as it can get.”

With the win, NMJC improves to 31-3 on the season and will have to face top-seeded and undefeated Shelton State (34-0) Thursday afternoon. Game time is set for 1 p.m. (CDT). ASA Brooklyn finishes its season at 22-2.

“Shelton is really, really good,” Sanders said. “A lot of times when you come up here to the national tournament, a lot of the first games are ugly. Kids are nervous and they haven’t been in this setting before. A lot of times they will settle down that next game and play a lot better. I believe that we will do that.”

Heading into the fourth quarter, NMJC trailed ASA Brooklyn 41-37, but the Lady T-Birds outscored the Lady Avengers 20-16 over the final 10 minutes of regulation to knot the game at 57-all and force overtime thanks to a steal and layup by Tatiana Wright.

In overtime, ASA won the tip and quickly scored. But the Lady Avengers wouldn’t score again.

“The overtime period was crunch time,” Alexes Bryant said. “We had to pick up our defense and actually pressure the ball and don’g give them any easy shots. We had to stop their guards from penetrating.”

Bryant came up with a steal and a bucket to tie the game at 59-59 with 3:26 left on the clock. Amanda Maqueia then scored the go-ahead bucket with 57 second remaining.

When ASA got the ball back, it attempted to run the clock down for a last-second shot, but the Lady Avengers couldn’t get the shot off in time and gave NMJC the ball back with 2.7 seconds to play. The Lady Avengers fouled Bryant, sending her to the line with 1.6 seconds to play.

The sophomore missed her first free throw, but sank the back end, pushing the Lady T-Birds’ lead to 62-59.

“I was very nervous,” Bryant said. “But, luckily I made the last free throw and that kind of took the pressure off (ASA’s) last incident.”

The Lady Avengers got the ball back with not even half a second to play. The Lady Avengers went to the line, but missed both shots.

The Lady T-Birds lead by as many as eight points in the first quarter before taking a 17-13 lead into the break. ASA Brooklyn battled back in the second quarter and put NMJC in a four-point deficit. However by halftime, the two teams were tied 27-27.

NMJC trailed by four, 34-30, in the third quarter before going on to 7-0 run to take a 37-34 lead. It didn’t last though as ASA Brooklyn countered with 7-0 run of its own to take a 41-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Lady T-Birds had three players finish with double figure scoring as well as three recording double-digit rebounds. Two Lady T-Birds had double-doubles.

Bryant led the Lady T-Birds with 16 points and 14 rebounds while Danielle Craft chipped in 11 points and 11 boards. Jurnee President had 15 points off the bench while Maqueia finished the night with 11 rebounds. Wright posted nine points, four assists, and four steals for NMJC while Maqueia chipped in six points and had three blocks. Thamires Andrade and Keonna Watson also scored for the Lady T-Birds.

“It is tough,” Bryant said of having to carry the offense with Ashley Reid and Ni’Asia McIntosh out for the season with injuries. “But, I would say, at times like this, I want and our team wants a national championship, so it is time to step up and let other people also step up and adjust so we can get the win.” FARMER/NEWS-SUN Jurnee President works her way under the basket before attempting a shot Tuesday afternoon in the second round of the NJCAA Women’s National Basketball Championship. NMJC beat/lost to ASA Brooklyn.

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