White, Thames spearhead rally to lift Jones past Blinn, 77-65
LUBBOCK, Texas – Sakyia White registered a double-double with 27 points and 19 rebounds, and No. 23 seed Jones College earned its second victory over a Top-10 seed in as many nights with a 77-65 victory over No. 8 seed Blinn College Thursday night in the second around of the NJCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Championship at the Rip Griffin Center.
Meloney Thames added 24 points for the Bobcats just one night after they took down No. 10 seed New Mexico Junior College. White had 17 of her points in the second half, and Jones (30-4) used a three-point barrage at the start of the fourth quarter to turn a 54-51 deficit into a runaway win.
“I just keep the mindset of just playing for my team.” White said. “We just come in with the mindset of being the better team and proving that we belong here.”
With the win, the Bobcats advance to the quarterfinals where they will face Eastern Florida (28-4) at 3 p.m. on Saturday. A win would put the Bobcats in the national tournament semifinals for the first time in program history.
Blinn, the champion of Region XIV, watches its season end at 28-5.
“I just think we got some key stops and rebounds,” Jones head coach Missy Bilderback said. “In the third quarter we allowed a few offensive stickbacks; I thought we were defending well in the half court but we were along some second-chance opportunities and gave up some easy buckets. In the fourth quarter we got a few stops and that translated and we were able to score a couple, and the next thing you know we’re up seven. Our kids just made plays. It’s nothing I can draw up or do, they’re coming off ball screens, sticking shots and getting effort rebounds and putbacks.”
After hitting just 3 of 12 from 3-point range in the first three periods, Jones drained 5 of 11 in the final period to pull away. Coupled with the work inside of White, it was momentum that Blinn just could not contain in the final 10 minutes as Jones shot 52.9 percent (18 of 34) from the floor after halftime.
The Buccaneers struggled from the floor in the final frame, hitting just 2 of 14 shots.
“We’ve been through so much adversity throughout the year, so when it comes down to these close games, we’ve just learned to punch harder,” Thames said. “(It’s about) who gets the last punch.”
Olivia Knight added 10 points for the Bobcats, and her two threes to start the fourth quarter helped put the Bobcats up for good. Thames had two of her four 3-pointers in the final 10 minutes as well. Thames and Knight combined for three straight treys to turn a 56-54 deficit into a 62-56 lead with 6:23 to play, and Blinn managed just one field goal and four free throws the rest of the game.
Blinn got off to a blistering pace in the first quarter, draining a trio of 3-pointers and putting the clamps on Jones defensively to take a 17-6 lead that led to a 19-10 advantage and the end of the first.
But the Bobcats slowly began chipping away behind the effort of White, who had four points to end the first quarter then took over midway through the second. Jones opened the second on a 7-2 run, then White and Olivia Knight hit back-to-back buckets to make it a one-possession game.
After Tiffany Tulls converted a three-point play for the Buccaneers to push the lead to 26-21, Jones ended the half on an 8-1 run over the final 2:40, with White hitting a pair of layups in the process. Her second bucket in the sequence tied the game, then Arianna Patton put the Bobcats up at the intermission with a jumper with 24.8 left in the half.
Thames, who had two 3-pointers in the first quarter, led Jones in the first half with 12 points. Hannah Humphrey, herself 3-for-4 from 3-point range, led Blinn with nine.