Hustle, grit propel Three Rivers to 68-60 upset of Casper
LUBBOCK, Texas – There weren’t a whole lot of areas where Three Rivers Community College came out ahead on the stat sheet in its game Tuesday against Casper College.
But the ones where the Lady Raiders did dominate proved vitally important – turnovers and free throws, and that was a result of hustling on defense and grabbing some key offensive rebounds late.
Combined, those factors helped ninth-seeded Three Rivers pull of the second upset of the day in the second around of the NJCAA Women’s Division I National Championships, a 68-60 victory over the Thunderbirds at the Rip Griffin Center.
“Our team is a gritting team,” Three Rivers head coach Alex Wiggs said. “Stats are a big part of it, but at the end of the day it matters who’s ahead at the end. Our girls battled and competed, and the last minute of the game shows how tough this team is and how much this team wants it.”
The win keeps the Lady Raiders perfect on the season at 22-0 and vaults them into the quarterfinals to face No. 16 seed Western Nebraska, which knocked off No. 1 Jones College in the game just prior to Three Rivers’ victory. Casper College, which came in as the No. 8 seed, ends its season at 22-2, having lost its last two games.
Three Rivers’ hustle and grit was never more evident than in the last 50 seconds of the game.
Clinging to a 63-57 lead, Three Rivers’ Myia Yelder went to the free-throw line. Sank the first one but missed the second, but Chaylea Mosby grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled. Like Yelder, she sank the first and missed the second, but Hya Haywood was there for the offensive board. She fed Yelder, who again was fouled
Yelder, again, made the first and missed the second, and again Mosby grabbed the offensive rebound and got it back to Yelder, who was sent back to the line. This time, she made both, and that put the Lady Raiders up 67-57, but more importantly, ate 16 precious seconds off the game clock.
“You would obviously love to make both free throws and get a steal on the inbounds pass and get fouled again,” Wiggs said. “But I thought it was huge. If you can’t make both of them, make the first one and go get that rebound and get fouled and run some more time off the clock. We ran about (16) seconds off the clock there just by grit and going and getting the ball.”
It proved to be the decisive sequence for the Lady Raiders, but another key one came early in the third quarter. After Casper had cut its deficit to 40-35, Three Rivers answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Yelder and Haywood and two free throws from Karlee Holland to push the lead back to double digits, and that allowed Three Rivers to keep the Thunderbirds at arm’s length the rest of the game.
Three Rivers finished the game 19 of 28 from the free-throw line, compared to just 5 of 15 for the Thunderbirds, and the Lady Raiders scored 18 points off 20 Casper turnovers while shooting just 32.3 percent for the game.
“We know teams are going to make runs, but we’ve got to keep our heads and keep battling and do what we do, and trust each other and trust the system,” Wiggs said. “Our girls did that very well today and had the confidence and knocked down some open shots.”
Yelder led the Lady Raiders with 16 points and Mosby finished with 14. Kobe King-Hawea, who is pledged to the University of Texas, led all scorers with 17 points and nine rebounds while Kammie Ragsdale had 13 points for the Thunderbirds.