Muhammad’s game-winning three helps Chipola survive foul-fest for 71-68 win over Eastern Arizona
LUBBOCK, Texas – Down a starter and having watched two teams combined for 54 fouls and 73 free-throw attempts, Chipola College head coach Greg Franklin needed someone to step up at the end.
Shimei Muhammad obliged.
The freshman had just three points through all but the last five seconds of the contest, but her ability to double her output on the final shot of the game helped the third-seeded Indians avoid a furious rally and upset attempt by 19th-seeded Eastern Arizona.
Muhammad drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired, earning a celebratory dogpile at halfcourt, and the Indians outlasted the Gila Monsters, 71-68, in the second round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Championships on Wednesday.
“I thought the kids stayed in there and played tough,” said Franklin, who saw starting forward TaShonna Wright Gaskins play just three minutes while battling an ankle injury. “I was pleased with how they pulled it out and that’s all I can say about that.
“We’re a little shorthanded right now. Everybody’s had to play a lot more minutes than they normally do. We’ll have to go back, maybe take some ice baths, get our mind right and come out here tomorrow and see if we can’t get another (win).”
The victory vaults the Indians (19-4) into the quarterfinals where they will face either South Georgia Tech or Tyler Junior College on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern Arizona, which upset Moberly Area in the first round, ends its season at 21-5.
Franklin is hoping his team will be able to find some offensive rhythm in its next game, because it was non-existent for either team on Thursday. That’s what fouls and free throws will do.
And Chipola wasn’t exactly efficient at the free-throw line, either, hitting just 27 of 43 attempts compared to 21 of 3o for the Gila Monsters. None were bigger than three made free throws down the stretch.
Chipola used a 14-2 run to end the third quarter and were seemingly in control going into the fourth up 55-38. Even as late as 3:16 to play, the Indians still led by double digits.
But Eastern Arizona made one last push. Susi Namoa drained three of her five 3-pointers during an 11-0 run that gave the Gila Monsters a 66-65 lead with 48.6 seconds to play, their first lead since early in the game.
Chipola, however, regained its composure enough to find a way at the end. Jordan McLaughlin hit two free throws with 41.4 seconds left, and after Catarina Ferreira hit a putback with 24.7 to play to put Eastern Arizona back up by one, De’Myla Brown sank one of two from the charity stripe with 15.2 to play, tying the game.
Eastern Arizona had a shot to win at the end, but Ferreira was pressured at midcourt and turned the ball over with 4.9 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession, Isadora Sousa found Muhammad alone at the top of the key, and the freshman drained the game-winner to send the Indians on to the quarterfinals.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, either from the line or from the field,” said Franklin, whose team shot 37 percent for the game.
Ferreira led all scorers with 30 points, playing most of the second half with four fouls, for Eastern Arizona and Namoa added 21, 16 of which came in the second half.
Brown led the Indians with 22 points. McLaughlin added 20 points and Sousa chipped in 11.
Eastern Arizona finished the first half 16 of 22 from the line while Chipola was 14 of 19. The Indians also forced 12 Gila Monster turnovers and converted them into 16 points.