Shelton State overcomes slow start, routs Wabash Valley 88-54
LUBBOCK, Texas – It’s safe to say Shelton State Community College head coach Madonna Thompson was not a fan of her team’s opening frame to its 2021 NJCAA Women’s Division I National Championship debut.
But there was little she could find fault with for the next three quarters.
The Buccaneers overcame a sluggish first quarter by getting back to doing what it does best – turn defense into transition offense – and riding that to an 88-54 victory over Wabash Valley in the second round of the tournament Tuesday night at the Rip Griffin Center.
“That’s the problem. Every time we come here and we have a bye in the first round, the first quarter looks like what it did,” Thompson said. “It looks like we’re not ready to go, and I’ve warned them, and we’ve gone over it. We just look like we’re new to the place and (Wabash Valley) is continuing on with what they were doing.
But we’ve got some good kids and they settled down … and I told the to just play, and from then on it was definitely our ballgame. We just played hard, and I thought the kids did a good job defensively.”
With the win, the Buccaneers (21-4) advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals where they will face No 2 seed Trinity Valley Community College at 3 p.m. Wabash Valley, which beat Independence in Monday’s first round, sees its season come to an end at 21-4.
The Warriors had upset on their mind and were in good position to execute that plan in the first quarter, getting out to as much as a 14-6 lead midway through the quarter. But that would be the extent of the positives for Wabash Valley.
Over the next two periods, Shelton State outscored the Warriors 54-20 and held Wabash Valley to just 7 of 26 shooting from the field. By contrast, Shelton State hit 22 of 35 from the field and led by as much as 30 at 65-35 late in the third quarter.
The one area that concerned Thompson the most coming into the game was rebounding, but as it turns out, she really had nothing to worry about. The Buccaneers dominated on the glass, more than doubling Wabash Valley on the glass, 49-21, and that led to a 20-3 discrepancy in second-chance points for Shelton State.
But that wasn’t the only area the Bucs dominated. Shelton shot an impressive 51.6 percent for the game (33 of 64) and 73.9 percent from the free-throw line (17-23), and defensively forced 15 turnovers that led to 22 more points.
“That first half, I didn’t want to call a time out because I kind of thought that was to our advantage,” Thompson said. “We were kind of running them down and getting a little bit here and there, just enough, and I thought, ‘I’m just subbing, I’m not calling a timeout.’ And I think that got us a little bit of that lead in the second half. We got a couple of their better players in foul trouble and went after them a little bit trying to get them on the bench, and it worked. That’s a good ball team, I just think we played really well tonight for three quarters.”
Thompson also got some unexpected contributions, the biggest from sophomore guard Connie Clarke. Clarke, who averaged a little over eight points per game coming into the tournament, poured in a game-high 27 points and grabbed seven boards. Kirby DeBoard chipped in 14 points.
Kiarah Carney led Wabash Valley with 15 points. Je’Naiya Davis added 12, Deja Davis 11 and Jazmyn Turner 10 for the Warriors.