LUBBOCK, Texas – Tatiana Beaumont drained five 3-pointers as part of her game-high 20 points, and Eastern Florida State College captured a 69-54 victory over Moberly Area Community College in the Titans’ first trip to the NJCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Championship in school history.
Rapuluchi Ngorka added 12 points for the Titans (27-4), who advance to the second around to face No. 2 seed Shelton State Community College on Thursday at 6 p.m.
“Being from Region 8 is a blessing because we’re able to play against some of the best teams in the country,” Eastern Florida head coach MJ Baker said. “I definitely think coming out of Florida has prepared us to see the best teams in the nation, so the team has been tested all season. We looked good early but hit a rut in the second quarter and then again in the second half as well with turnovers.”
The Titans might have been making their first appearance in the national tournament in school history, but they sure didn’t play like it, getting off to a tremendous start and never trailing in the contest despite several rallies throughout the game by Moberly Area (26-6). Each time, however, Eastern Florida found a way to keep the Greyhounds at arm’s length.
Down 53-37 to start the fourth quarter, Moberly made one last push and wen ton a 12-3 run. But the spurt took almost seven minutes off the clock and kept the Greyhounds from chipping into the deficit enough to make a run at the end.
“For us a lot of it came down to what happened (at the Region VIII tournament) for us,” Beaumont said. “We had a bad second game and that knocked us out of the tournament and kept us from playing for a championship. A lot of the girls carried that hurt around with them. So for us we knew we had to get started and move on to the next day.”
Shadaria Smith and Ana Carolina De Jesus added 10 points apiece for the Titans, who shot 41.3 percent for the game and were 6 of 18 from 3-point range. De Jesus also had her second double-double of the season with 11 rebounds.
Indya Green led Moberly Area with 14 points, but the Greyhounds hit just 27.5 percent from the field for the game.
Shadaria Smith hit a couple of shots to start the game and Tatiana Beaumont drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Eastern Florida a quick 9-2 lead.
Moberly closed to within 9-7 before Eastern Florida surged again, this time going on a 10-1 run that included 6-for-6 from the free-throw line as the Titans used their size inside. That put Eastern Florida up 19-8 with just over a minute left in the first quarter.
The Greyhounds, however, came right back with four points to close the first quarter and three more to open the second, pulling to within 19-15 just over a minute into the period.
Eastern Florida came right back with a 14-2 run and appeared to be headed to a comfortable halftime lead. But Moberly put its national tournament experience to the test and closed the half on a 10-2 spurt, pulling to within 33-27 at the intermission.
After hitting just 21.1 percent from the field in the first quarter, Moberly was better in the second, hitting on 35.7 percent of its shots. But Eastern Florida matched that by hitting on 46.5 percent from the field in the second quarter to overcome its 12 first-half turnovers.