Game 15

Friday - March 18, 2022

  • #3 Georgia Highlands - 79
  • #19 Hutchinson - 71

Georgia Highlands overcomes slow start to eliminate Hutchinson, 79-71.


LUBBOCK, Texas – Alexandra Shishkina scored a team-high 19 points, and No. 3 seed Georgia Highlands College overcame a slow start to hold off the upset bid from Hutchinson Community College in the second around of the NJCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Championship, beating the Blue Dragons 79-71 Friday at the Rip Griffin Center.


O’Mariyah Tucker added 14 points, including eight straight to start the fourth quarter and give the Lady Chargers (30-2) a little breathing room after the Blue Dragons (29-6) had closed to within 51-47 late in the third quarter.


“The first half I wasn’t really being like myself and not playing like myself, and I got to the point where I said ‘I got to step up,’” Tucker said. “I’ve got to make something happen. I just stopped thinking about playing and just went out there and started hooping.”


Georgia Highlands used a 15-1 run over the last part of the first quarter and early part of the second quarter to erase an early deficit and take control, forcing Hutchinson to play chase the rest of the game.


With the win, the Lady Chargers advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals where they will play either College of Southern Idaho or Trinity Valley Community College at 7 p.m.


“Coach (Brandon Harrel) kept making the point that we were the highest seed left and we couldn’t let that be a distraction,” Tucker said. “We’re the highest seed left and we’ve just got to keep working and not let anybody get in our head.”


ShaoTung Lin added 15 points for the Lady Chargers and Jada Alston chipped in 10 in the victory.


Tor’e Alford led all scorers with 22 points for the Blue Dragons. Mele Kailahi added 16 points and Mya Williams 12 in the losing effort.


Georgia Highlands did a good job defensively of keeping Hutchinson out of its comfort zone. The Blue Dragons hit just 8 of 25 from 3-point range, but forced them into 21 turnovers that led to 26 Lady Chargers points while getting 19 points off 17 offensive rebounds.


“Everybody comes in so excited and wants to do something (special) so they rush a little, and it’s only because they want to make a play,” Shishkina said. “But then you realize its unnecessary and you just relax and do what you’ve always been doing and do the things that got us here.”


The game could not have stared any better for the Blue Dragons. Mele Kailaho and Tor’e Alford hit consecutive 3-pointers and Mya Williams added a layup, and Hutchinson was up 8-0 less than three minutes into the game.


From there, however, it was all Georgia Highlands. Down 11-2 after Williams drained a trey, the Lady Chargers scored 13 of the game’s next 15 points – led by 3-pointers from ShaoTung Lin, Jashanti Simmons and Naz Oget, to take a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.


The Lady Chargers didn’t stop there, scoring the first seven points of the second quarter, including an Alexandra Shishkina 3-ointer, to extend the lead to 22-13 just over two minutes into the period. From there the Lady Chargers slowly built on the lead, pushing it to 32-22 with 2:19 left in the half and finishing the first half with a 36-25 advantage.


Georgia Highlands was solid from the floor, shooting 41.2 percent (14 of 34) and 33 percent (4 of 12) from 3-point range. The Lady Chargers also outrebounded Hutchinson 26-14 in the first half.


Shishkina paced Georgia Highlands in the first half with nine points while Alford led Hutchinson with 12.


Hutchinson made one last push in the second half to get back into the game. Trailing 51-38, the Blue Dragons went on a 9-0 run to close to within 51-57 with 1:28 to play, but could get no further. Tucker helped put the game out of reach with a pair of 3-pointers and a putback at the start of the fourth quarter to push the Georgia Highlands lead back to 10.