Thames, White power Jones College to 61-52 win over New Mexico Junior College
LUBBOCK, Texas – Meloney Thames scored 10 of her 14 points in the final seven minutes of the game, and Sakyia White added game-high 18 points to go with 25 rebounds to lead Jones College to a 61-52 victory over New Mexico Junior College in the opening round of the NJCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Championship at the Rip Griffin Center.
With Jones (29-4) trailing 45-43, Thames and White keyed a game-ending 18-5 run that carried the Bobcats into the second round, where they will face Blinn College on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Thames had three layups, a jumper and two free throws in the run while White chipped in a pair of inside buckets and two free throws with under a minute left in the game that sealed the win for the Bobcats.
“I’m going to be honest, I was having trouble breathing the whole game, but I just kept telling myself I’ve got to fight for my team so we can do this and we can win,” Thames said. “Once the shots started falling, yeah (the breathing improved).”
The was a much-welcomed change for Bobcats head coach Missy Bilderback, who brought her team into the tournament last year as the No. 1 seed but was bounced in its first game by Western Nebraska.
“I’m just so excited for our team,” Bilderback said. “We’re excited just to get to continued to play. This has been such a fun group to coach all year and we’re just excited we get to live another day, survive and advance, play another game. I’m proud of the way we competed. We’ve had about a two-week layoff and we struggled a little bit, but at the same time I’m proud of when it became winning time our kids made plays and took over.”
Jones’ game-wining surge started when Nakyah Jones hit an inside bucket that tied the game at 45. Thames then scored three straight points to put the Bobcats up 48-45 with 4:45 to play.
After a Mariama Sow bucket pulled NMJC (26-5) to within two, Thames added a 3-point play and a layup to push the lead to 53-47. The Thunderbirds got to within 53-50, but Thames scored six of her points in the final two minutes to seal the victory.
“We just had to remember to keep our energy high, play together and not let the small things get to us,” White said.
Olivia Knight chipped in 14 points for the Bobcats.
Precious Cowan led NMJC with 12 points while Sow finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Jones got off to a fantastic start Olivia Knight and Sakyia White each had a pair of buckets to put the Bobcats out to a 12-4 lead. But NMJC slowly and surely started to reel the Bobcats in and used a late surge in the second quarter to flip the script.
Trialing 19-12, the Thunderbirds got three straight buckets to pull to within one, then a free throw by Mariama Sow tied the game at 21 with just over three minutes left in the half. Medina Camara and Precious Cowan then hit back-to-back buckets to give the Thunderbirds a 25-21 lead before Ashlynn Freeman hit a bucket at the buzzer to pull Jones to within two at the intermission.
Knight led all scorers with nine points in the first half and White had eight and 10 rebounds for Jones. Cowan’s six points in the first half paced NMJC.
Neither team was able to establish dominance for any length of time, and the stats reflected as much, with the teams separated by just one rebound and tied for points in the paint. Jones did have 12 rebounds to just eight for NMJC.