Athletics News

Women's Basketball

Rough start hampers ’Jacks in tourney opener
Hurricanes blow out to 18-3 lead on way to 86-66 victory

EAST PEORIA, Ill. – The fourth-seeded Hurricanes lived up to their nickname Wednesday afternoon, storming out to an 18-3 lead on the way to an 86-66 women’s basketball victory over Chesapeake College in the opening round of the NJCAA Division II national tournament.

"Louisburg came out hard and came out aggressive," said Chesapeake head coach Damon Nichols after the Hurricanes (29-1) snapped the Skipjacks’ 14-game winning streak. "We came out slow and you just can’t do that at nationals."

Jasmine Phillips, who finished with game highs in points (21) and rebounds (11), had half of Louisburg College’s first 18 points. Kelley McCaffity, who went 4-for-7 from 3-point range on the way to 16 points, drained a pair of 3-pointers during the Hurricanes’ opening run.

Olivia Gaines (17 points) and Jazmine Parker (15 points) also reached double figures for the Hurricanes, who advanced to a Thursday night quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Mesa Community College (23-7). The 13th-seeded Skipjacks (25-4) dropped into the tournament’s consolation bracket, where they will meet 12th-seeded St. Louis Community College (20-9) Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. Central Time.

Mesa defeated St. Louis, 65-61, in the tournament contest right before the Chesapeake-Louisburg match.

The Skipjacks, playing in their first national championship tournament, didn’t hit a field goal until Shantrel Oliver (16 points) sank a jumper with 15:09 left in the first half. The Skipjacks were an uncharacteristic 10-of-33 from the field in the opening half, which Nichols attributed partly to Louisburg’s defense and partly to the national tournament setting.

"It was pretty effective," Nichols said of the Hurricanes’ zone. "They got in the passing lanes and got those steals.

"There were also some nerves out there," added Nichols. "A lot of people didn’t take their time on their shots. We didn’t show a lot of patience on offense."

What the Skipjacks did show was perseverance. Oliver’s basket started a 10-4 run – featuring two baskets each from Oliver and Deja Acree (nine points) – that pulled the Skipjacks within 22-13. Chesapeake was still within nine points at 30-21, but the Hurricanes then finished the half with a 13-4 surge that included three McCaffity hoops, including another 3-pointer.

"We just let 13 (McCaffity) hurt us," said Nichols. "She was stroking those threes and we were leaving her wide open."

Nichols said breakdowns in the Skipjacks’ pressure defense also took their toll.

"We missed a lot of assignments on our pressure and didn’t recover," said Nichols. "That led to a lot of layups."

Nichols took some positives from the loss. Chesapeake played the Hurricanes virtually even in the second half, had a 53-42 rebounding advantage, and pulled down 35 offensive rebounds.

"If we had capitalized on even half of those offensive rebounds, it’s a different game," said Nichols.

"They worked hard," Nichols said of his player. "They could have given up, but we had spurts."

Denver Clyde nearly produced a double-double for the Skipjacks, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds. Rose Smith joined Clyde and Oliver in double figures with 13 points, and Ashleigh Jones added seven points.

Nichols said he had the opportunity to scout St. Louis.

"They’re a team that tries to slow the ball down and work through their sets," Nichols said of the Archers. "They have some size – physical, wide-bodied kids who do a good job in the paint. We’ve got to pressure them and recover.

"We just have to go out tomorrow and play a little bit harder and try to survive."

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