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Lady Senators season ends in second round of nationals

Lady Senators season ends in second round of nationals

LUBBOCK, Texas — Walters State made one last-ditch effort to get back in it Wednesday morning in the second round of the NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championships against second-seeded Gulf Coast State, but it just wasn't enough.


The 15th-seeded Lady Senators used a 7-0 run in the fourth period to cut an 18-point deficit to 11 at the final media timeout to make things interesting, but not enough 3-pointers fell for WSCC in the closing minutes to get them completely back in it as they fell to the Commodores, 65-51, inside the Rip Griffin Center at Lubbock Christian University.


With the win, the Commodores improved to 24-5 on the year and move on to the quarterfinal round to face the winner of No. 7 Seward County (30-3) and No. 10 South Plains (29-4) on Thursday at 3 p.m. Central for a spot in the semifinals.


The loss brought a close to Walters State's 18-game winning streak as well as its season, as the Lady Senators close shop for the 2018-19 season with a 29-5 record. Coach Dave Kragel wraps up his 42nd season on the Walters State sidelines as the winningest coach in NJCAA women's basketball history, as the veteran coach is 11 wins shy of 1,000 at WSCC after ending this season with 989 victories.


Walters State led for a good portion of the first period, with the largest margin being a 3-point cushion at 7-4 on a bucket by Diamond Forrest. The final lead of the game for the Lady Senators came on a basket by Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu to make it 11-10 before the Commodores scored the final six points of the frame for a 16-11 lead.


Gulf Coast pushed the margin to 21-11 on a 3-pointer from Brittany Davis and a bucket by Dominique Banks, but back-to-back baskets from WSCC's Brianna Dixon and Forrest made it a 21-15 game before a 9-3 run put the Commodores up a dozen. Jalayah Manning and Zacharyia Esmon both hit late 3-pointers to cut the margin in half, but Gulf Coast got the final bucket of the half and took a 36-28 lead into halftime.


The Lady Senators shot 39 percent (12 of 31) from the field in the opening half, making 4 of 12 from long range and misfiring on both free throw attempts. WSCC had just seven turnovers, compared to 11 for the Commodores, but the Lady Senator had just eight points off those miscues compared to 11 from Gulf Coast off Walters State's turnovers.


Forrest tossed in eight points to lead WSCC at the half, while Jamya Rogers had six points on a pair of 3-pointers.


The Commodores shote better than 50 percent in each of the first two periods and ended up at 60 percent (15 of 25) in the first half, making 2 of 7 from long range and 4 of 6 at the foul line.


Brittany Davis led Gulf Coast with eight first half points, while Alexus Dye had seven and Lya Farcy and Nadia Marshall both added six in the opening 20 minutes.


WSCC trailed 41-32 before a 10-0 run by the Commodores put the game away. Gulf Coast never got the lead to 20, but it held a 53-37 lead entering the final 10 minutes. 


The Commodores led 59-41 before Mendjiadeu hit two free throws, Dixon made a layup and Forrest swished a trey to cut the lead to 59-48 with 3:00 left. From there, all Walters State could get was a 3-pointer from Alexis Trice in the final minute.


For the game, Gulf Coast shot 47.3 percent (26 of 55) from the field, making 3 of 11 on 3-point attempts and 10 of 14 on free throws. The Commodores scored 44 points in the paint and outrebounded WSCC 34-23. Davis led Gulf Coast with 14 points, while Dye had a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards and Farcy added 11 points in the win.


The Lady Senators shot 33.9 percent (19 of 56) in the contest, knocking down 7 of 20 from long distance and just 6 of 12 at the charity stripe. Forrest was the lone WSCC player in double digits with 14 points, while Rogers, Esmon and Mendjiadeu had seven points each and Trice and Dixon added six apiece in the loss.