Lady Jets Knocked Out of National Tournament, End Record Season
The 19th-seeded South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets’ NJCAA National Tournament run was cut short on Tuesday morning after losing to 14th-seeded Trinity Valley Community College, 73-48, in the first round of the tournament. The loss ends the Lady Jets’ historic season with an overall record and program-best 30-4.
The Lady Jets made the trip to Lubbock, TX knowing their opponent would be tough. The Cardinals were ranked in the top five for much of the season, and ended the season as the fourth ranked team in the nation, as opposed to the Lady Jets’ no. 20 ranking. Additionally, the team has a history with the National Tournament – they have appeared in the tournament 24 times and have won the national title eight times.
“We didn’t do much of what we knew we had to do,” Lady Jets head coach James Frey said to open the post-game press conference. “We worked on being where we were supposed to be, but for whatever reason today – we just weren’t there.”
The Cardinals won the tipoff and led for the ensuing 40 minutes.
Trinity Valley’s pressure-driven defense and fast-paced offense forced the Lady Jets to make mistakes and miss shots throughout the game, making the Region XVII and District J champion Lady Jets appear to be a different team than normal.
Despite the outcome, the game started out evenly matched for the two teams. Four Lady Jets put a combined 11 points on the board for SGTC in the first quarter, but an early string of fouls gave TVCC the opportunity to take 10 free-throws in the quarter, lifting the Cardinals to a nine-point lead. The Lady Jets only scored 10 points in the second quarter, and entered the half down 21-43. A short-lived momentum swing came in third quarter, when the Lady Jets outscored the Cardinals 20-12 to close the gap to 14 points, but the momentum eventually tilted back TVCC’s way, and they closed out the game with the win and an opportunity to advance to the next round. The Cardinals will face 3-seed Shelton State in the Sweet 16.
The Lady Jets knew they needed to keep the Cardinals out of the paint, but could not do so. The Cardinals outscored them 44-16 in the paint. The Lady Jets turned the ball over fewer times (12-21) and had more second chance points than TVCC (10-6), but was surpassed by the Cardinals in every other category.
“It’s just one of those things – the ball didn’t bounce for the Lady Jets today,” Frey said. “I’ve got a great group of sophomores … we’ve won 59 games together in two years. I couldn’t be more proud of them … I hate it for them that it ended today, but at the end of the day I want them to hold their heads high.”
While there were no double-digit scorers on the day for the Lady Jets, the group of five sophomores led the team in scoring. Mari Hill had nine points on the day; Bigue Sarr, Alyssa Nieves and Ricka Jackson had eight points apiece and Fatou Pouye scored seven points.
Freshmen Kamya Hollingshed and Amara Edeh also contributed to the offense, scoring six and two points respectively.
The loss ends the Lady Jets’ season, but not before they set the program record for the best season to date. The 2018-2019 Lady Jets boast a 30-4 record on the year, in addition to going undefeated in Region XVII conference play (18-0). The team’s trip to the NJCAA Women’s DI National Tournament marks the program’s first ever three-peat appearance in the tournament, and the team’s fifth appearance in the tournament in the last six years.
This season’s Lady Jets also set a team record for the most points scored in a single game (109), and Alyssa Nieves set individual records for the most three-pointers made in a single game (11) and most points scored in an individual game (42).
The outstanding performances this season have allowed three Lady Jets to sign with four-year institutions: Fatou Pouye will continue her education and basketball career at the University of Illinois, Bigue Sarr will play for Oklahoma State University, and Ricka Jackson will come back to Lubbock, TX to play for the Texas Tech University.
Frey’s record as the Lady Jets head coach now stands at 192-43 in his seven seasons at SGTC. He has won the GCAA Coach of the Year and the District J Coach of the Year honors five times each.