Michal Miller scored 20 points, and No. 20 seed Trinity Valley Community College closed out No. 4 seed Jones County Junior College with a 19-4 run for a 78-69 victory Wednesday in the second round of the NJCAA Division I Tournament at the Rip Griffin Center.
Mercedes Brooks and Arleighshya McElroy added 13 points apiece for the Lady Cardinals, the tournament runners-up each of its first two years in Lubbock.
Tyasia Moore chipped in 16 points for Trinity Valley (29-5), which trailed 65-59 with 7:31 to play. But after coach Gerald Ewing called a timeout, the Lady Cardinalsrattled off 10 of the next 14 points to tie the game at 69, then finished with a jumper and converted seven of eight free throws to close out the game.
The Lady Bobcats (26-4) came into the game as one of the top rebounding teams in the country and did finish Wednesday with a 39-34 edge. But Trinity Valley’s defense negated the advantage by getting 24 points off 15 Jones County turnovers.
Trinity Valley also did a good job of containing – somewhat – Jones County’s dynamic guard Alexis Tolefree, holding her under her average of 20.4 points per game. She led the Lady Bobcats with 18 points, but most of that came in the first half.
Through two games in the national tournament the Lady Cardinals have played nothing like the No. 20 seed and more like the team in search of its first national title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2013-14. On Wednesday, they kept that level of play going from the opening tip.
Walters State 57
Sara Vujacic scored 16 points, including 4 3-point goals, and No. 12 seed Walters State College rallied from 10 points down early in the fourth quarter to upset No. 5 seed Cochise College in a second-round game.
Vujacic was the only double-figure scorer for the Lady Senators (29-5), who eclipsed last year’s exit in the second round to advance to the quarterfinals.
Trailing 49-39 with 8:49 to play, Walters State coach Dave Kragel called timeout to settle his troops and implore them on the defensive end. The move worked as a basket by Gazmyne Herndon and a 3 by Vujacic sparked a 16-2 run that gave the Lady Senators the lead for good at 55-51 with 36.5 seconds to play.
Deezha Battle scored 11 points and Jasmine Coleman 10 for Cochise (29-3), which was held well below its 76-per-game average.
NW Florida State 68
Moberly Area 47
Georgia Gayle drained six 3s as part of her 20 points, and No. 14 seed Northwest Florida State College upset No. 3 seed Moberly Area Community College, handing Moberly its first loss of the season.
The Raiders (24-6) held Moberly (32-1) far below its 79.9-point scoring average and its lowest point total of the season by 12 points.
Trinity Baptiste chipped in 13 points and Jernigan added 11 for the Raiders.
Anisha George led Moberly with 12 points.
Wabash Valley 69
Juliunn Redmond scored 24 points, and No. 11 seed Tallahassee Community College completed a Wednesday second-round sweep of upsets by lower seeds, eliminating No. 6 seed Wabash Valley College in the round of 16.
Japonica James added 19 points, 10 of those coming in a crucial stretch to start the fourth quarter, as Tallahassee (26-6) secured a quarterfinal date to face Florida State College Athletic Association Panhandle Conference rival Northwest Florida State at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“I felt like my team needed me and my coach wanted me to step up, too,” James said. “I felt like they had my back (Tuesday) and I felt I had to take over because they handled things (Tuesday). I had to give them my all just for them. I knew I was quicker than their post players and their guards, too. I just had to use my quickness to my advantage.”
Mariah McCully led Wabash Valley (30-3) with 20 points while Marie Hunter added 14 and Ashley Moore 13.
James scored eight straight points during a stretch early in the fourth quarter that helped the Lady Eagles turn a 55-45 deficit with two minutes to play in the third into a 60-59 lead with just over six minutes left. Then, tied at 69 with 43 seconds left, Tallahassee finished the game on a 6-0 run, including four points from Nakiah Black, who finished with 11.
“The fourth quarter in both games has been the difference between us still being here and taking a long bus ride back home,” Tallahassee coach Franqua “Q” Bedell said. “Free throws killed us. I thought we missed too many free throws, but the girls outrebounded them by three and did a great job on the boards.”
Wabash Valley came into the tournament with the top offense in the country, averaging almost 95 points per game. But Tallahassee did a good job of controlling the tempo defensively to keep the scoring down.
The Warriors shot just 27.3 percent in the fourth quarter while committing 25 turnovers for the game, which led to 24 points for Tallahassee.
Wabash Valley held off Tallahassee as long as it could, but consecutive layups from James put Tallahassee up 60-59, and the Lady Eagles never trailed again.
NJCAA DIVISION I
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
At Rip Griffin Center
Round of 16
Trinity Valley 78, Jones County JC 69
Walters State 57, Cochise 54
Northwest Florida State 68, Moberly Area 47
Tallahassee 75, Wabash Valley 69
Shelton State (1) (34-0) vs. New Mexico JC (8) (31-3), 1 p.m.
Gulf Coast State (2) (27-2) vs. Seward County (7) (31-3), 3 p.m.
Walters State (12) (30-5) vs. Trinity Valley (20) (29-5), 5 p.m.
Tallahassee (11) (26-6) vs. Northwest Florida State (14) (24-6), 7 p.m.
Shelton State-New Mexico JC winner vs. Walters State-Trinity Valley winner, 5 p.m.
Gulf Coast State-Seward County winner vs. Tallahassee-Northwest Florida State winner, 7 p.m.
Semifinals losers, 4:30 p.m.
Semifinals winners, 7 p.m.