Gulf Coast State outlasts South Plains to reach semifinals, 68-66
LUBBOCK, Texas – Alexus Dye and Brittany Davis combined for 42 points, none more critical than the 20 scored in the fourth quarter, as Gulf Coast State outlasted South Plains College 68-66 in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships on Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center.
None of those points were bigger than the two free throws Dye drained with 1:14 to pay that put the Commodores (25-5) ahead for good. Davis drained four 3-pointers within about a three-minute span of the period that kept Gulf Coast in the game an allowed the Commodores to be in position to make plays on defense at the end of the game.
“I keep saying this team has just been so resilient and adapted to everything,” Gulf Coast head coach Roonie Scovel said. “This morning we talked about that everybody’s going to have to do something that they’ve really not done before, and I thought we made big plays at big times. Our team defense was absolutely better than its been all season long.
“So, maybe we did it by committee. We’ve done everything else by committee. Alexus had been doing this all year and Brittany’s been coming on big. These two are definitely big-time players and they always make big-time plays when we need them.”
Dye finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, winning and inside battle against South Plains forward Keke Hunter, who led the Texans with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Gulf Coast survived a flurry by Hunter late in the game, who missed two successive putback opportunities that would have put the Lady Texans ahead with under a minute to play. The Commodores also overcame a Davis turnover at midcourt by forcing a bad shot by Gabbie Green, then getting the loose ball rebound.
Forced to foul, South Plains sent Lya Farcy to the free-throw line with 11.9 seconds, and Farcy drained one of two, still giving the Lady Texans a chance. And they got that chance when Romola Dominguez got a good look from the 3-point line just to the left of the key.
But the ball was short and the rebound went out of bounds off South Plains with .7 seconds left. Gulf Coast got the ball inbounds and ran out the clock to secure the win and make their fourth trip to the semifinals in as many years since Lubbock began hosting the tournament in 2016.
“I thought our defensive rotation (was good) and making sure we blocked out and got the rebound and came out of the rebound without getting tied up,” Scovel said. “We just keep doing something right at the right time, and I can’t tell you why.”
Davis finished with 19 points for the Commodores, hitting 4 of 7 3-point attempts.
Green added 14 points for the Lady Texans, who led by as many as six in the third quarter and held a 53-49 advantage with 8:53 to play after the third and final 3-pointer by Sarah Shematsi, who finished with 11 points. But Davis kept the Lady Texans from pulling away with her 3-point shooting, her last one giving Gulf Coast a 61-60 lead with 4:49 to play.
Hunter and Dye would trade points from there until Dye drained the two go-ahead free throws late.
“It’s a one-possession game, one little ‘my bad’ over the course of 40 minutes that determined a game between two really good teams,” South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said.
“Those ‘my bads” both on offense and on defense are what ultimately gets you beat, and when you’re in game like this between two really, really good teams, it comes down to one possession. That one missed blockout, one forced pass, one late rotation on defense. The team that makes the fewest mistakes comes out of that.”