Tyler locks down Walters State in first round of national tournament
LUBBOCK, Texas – A team being able to shut down an opponent’s top scorer is the sign of a good game plan. Doing it to a team’s top three scorers involves not only great execution but great effort.
Accomplishing that feat is the reason why Tyler Junior College is advancing to the second around of the NJCAA Women’s Division I National Championships. The Apaches complete took Walters State out of its game and held a team averaging 73 points per game to 42 points through three quarters in a 72-60 victory at the Rip Griffin Center.
“We knew we couldn’t completely control them, but if could limit them and not let their other players beat us, because their other players are really good and do a good job of playing off each other,” Tyler head coach Trenia Tillis Hoard said. “Everything goes through (Walters State guard Blayre Shultz) and we were trying to not frustrate her, but make her, more or less, have to work for everything she got. We said if they were going to get shots they had to get hard shots.”
With the win, the Apaches (21-4) to the second around to face No. 6 seed South Georgia Tech Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Walters State ends its season at 13-4.
The Apache defense smothered the Walters State trio of Shultz and forwards Madison McCoy and Quentarra Mitchell. Coming into the game, those three had each averaged double figures in scoring, combining for more than 42 points per game. But against Tyler, they combined for just 33, with Shultz (19 ppg.) not reaching double figures until 1:19 remained in the game.
Mitchell finished with 17 points and Shultz 12, but neither were a factor when the game was undecided.
Tyler, meanwhile, got its usual contributions and more. Taryn Wills was a factor all game, finishing with 14 points while Nadechka Laccen and Veonce Powell added 13 each and Deborah Ogayemi chipped I 11.
“The offense today was kind of disjointed,” Tillis Hoard said. “We had some kids in foul trouble, and we’ve got a lot of younger kids who have never been to this point before and are having to learn to play with the physicality and see a team that we don’t know as well as we know our conference.”
Disjointed or not, the Apaches used a 7-0 run late in the first quarter to grab the lead and never look back. Walters State’s last serious challenge came early in the fourth quarter when a 3-pointer by Mitchell pulled the Lady Senators to within 52-45.
But Wills scored five points to open a 9-2 run that gave the Apaches a 61-47 lead with 4:30 to play in the game, and the Lady Senators never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.
“We’ve been better (defensively),” Tillis Hoard said. “We looked a little sluggish and looked a little out of sync when we had to help drop on our recovers. We had some kids on the floor that we haven’t had to play a whole lot of minutes, but I felt like they did a good job coming off the bench and us not losing too much to the point where we would lose the game.”
The Apaches had both their defense and their inside-outside game working early and often against the Lady Senators.
Tyler held Walters State to just 20.7 percent shooting (6 of 29) from the field in the first half, which crept above 20 percent only toward the end of the second quarter. Only the ability to hit from the free throw line (9 of 11) kept the Lady Senators from being completely overwhelmed.
The Apaches, meanwhile, shot 51.6 percent (16 of 31) from the field for the first half and got contributions both down low and from the 3-point arc. Tyler was 3 of 7 from 3-point range and also dominated Walters on points in the paint, 18-6 while outrebounding the Lady Senators 22-18.