Trinity Valley blitzes Shelton State in first quarter, runs away for 65-55 victory.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Jasmine Smith poured in a game-high 17 points, and Trinity Valley Community College eliminated Shelton State Community College from the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships for the fourth straight season, handing the Lady Buccaneers a 65-55 loss in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Arleighshya McElroy added 12 points and Curtessia Dean and Jnaya Walker added 10 each in the win for Trinity Valley (28-4), which is now just two victories away from appearing in its fourth straight national finals contest.
To get there, however, the Lady Cardinals will have to go through either Butler Community College of Northwest Florida State in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Thursday. But traversing through a tournament is something Trinity Valley is used to.
“I think we have our moments. I think we’re at 21/2 quarters and you’re always stretching for 40,” Trinity Valley head coach Gerald Ewing said. “That’s or goal, to be at 40 at the end of the season, and we’ve gotten better every game. That is what this team is capable of doing is getting better each game.”
In each of the past three meetings, the Lady Cardinals and Lady Buccaneers (29-4) met in the semifinals, which Trinity Valley winning each time but only by a combine nine points in the three meetings.
Wednesday’s clash was much different as Trinity Valley blitzed Shelton State in the first quarter and never looked back.
Trinity Valley came out of the gates on fire, outscoring Shelton State 29-14 in the first period thanks mainly to Dean, who had all of her 10 first-half points in the first five minutes of the contest. The Lady Cardinals shot a blistering 73.3 percent from the field (11 of 15) in the first 10 minutes.
Shelton State struggled to answer Trinity Valley’s initial barrage. Tied at 8, the Lady Cardinals outscored the Lady Buccaneers 21-4 over the final 61/2 minutes of the first quarter to seize control of the game. The 55 points was the second lowest total this season for a team that averaged 89 points per game coming into the tournament.
“Poor performance, and I think it started in the first quarter, and that is where the game was probably lost,” Shelton State head coach Madonna Thompson said. “We came out and like assistant coach Chris (Sanford) said, it was like our feet were in mud. We were a stop slower. They were faster, they were quicker, and when you score 29 points in the first quarter, that’s the difference in the game and where we lost it. I don’t know that we would have beaten anybody out here today the way we performed.”
After Shelton clamped down on Dean, the rest of the Lady Cardinals picked up the slack. Jasmine Smith scored six points and Jnaya Walker added four during the run.
Shelton State finally answered midway through the second quarter with an 8-0 run that cut the deficit to 34-25. But Trinity came right back to score six of the final eight points of the first half to re-establish the lead at 40-27 at the intermission.
Smith finished the first half with 13 points while Tiyah Johnson led the Lady Buccaneers with 10. Shelton State shot just 29.2 percent (19 of 65) from the field and hit just 6 of 27 from 3-point range.
Trinity Valley then put the game out of reach to start the third quarter by outscoring Shelton State with a 9-2 run to lead 49-32 with 3:05 to play in the period. Shelton State never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way, and that didn’t come until there were 10 seconds left in the game.
“Coach (Ewing) told us we have to locate our shooter and keep talking on defense,” McElroy said. “So as far as us talking and being able to switch on defense, it made it easier for us to guard them and keep them under their average.”