SGTC’s Lady Jets upset number 10 seed in first round of NJCAA Tournament
Lubbock, Texas- The South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets upset the 10th seeded Casper College Thunderbirds 77 – 65 in overtime in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Women’s National Basketball Tournament in Lubbock, Texas, Monday.
“I am so proud of this team,” said South Georgia Technical College Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey. “I kept telling them that we were the best 23rd seeded team ever in the national tournament and that we had the opportunity to come out here and do some things that no other 23rd seeded team had ever done.”
The Lady Jets believed their Coach and despite trailing 34 – 24 at the end of the first half, South Georgia Tech overcame that 10-point deficit and pulled off an outstanding 77 – 65 victory in overtime. “That is a 22-point swing in 25-minutes and that is hard to do especially against a 10th seeded team in the NJCAA National Tournament,” said Coach Frey.
Casper College entered the tournament with a 31 – 2 record and had a 21-game winning streak prior to the loss to the Lady Jets. The Lady Jets are now 29 – 5 overall and will advance to the Sweet Sixteen round where they will meet the seventh ranked Seward County Lady Knights at 9 p.m. EDT. The Lady Knights are 30 – 3. The game will be broadcast live on WISK-FM 98.7.
SGTC sophomore forward Houlfat Mahouchiza from Nice, France, made an old-fashioned three-point play in the final seconds of regulation to tie the game at 60 – 60. She went in for a lay-up and was fouled. The basket counted and then she sank the free throw to tie the game and force it into overtime.
Houlfat finished the game with nine points, five rebounds, and two assists. She got into foul trouble early in the game and only saw 25 minutes of playing time in the 45-minute contest. Sophomore forward Esther “Nike” Adenike from Lagos, Nigeria, was the other half of that dynamic duo inside for the Lady Jets. Nike finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
But it was the outstanding play of freshman shooting guard Alyssa Nieves from Tampa, FL that might have been the difference in the second half. She was the leading scorer for the Lady Jets with 21 points. She was five of 10 from the three-point line.
Nieves and two other freshmen, guard CeDeja James and forward Bigue Sarr both came away with double-figures for the Lady Jets in this exciting match-up. James scored a total of 12 points including 10 in the second half and overtime to help clinch the victory for the Lady Jets. She was 5 of 6 from the free throw line. She also had four rebounds and three assists.
Bigue Sarr, a freshman forward from Kaolack, Senegal, closed out the double-digit scoring for the Lady Jets with 11 points and six rebounds. All 11 Lady Jets played in the contest and contributed on offense or defense or both. Freshman Ricka Jackson scored five points and Kayla Holmes and Sceret Ethridge both added two points to close out the scoring.
In other action, the 24th seeded ASA team from Brooklyn upset the ninth ranked Salt Lake team 60 – 59 and the 17th seeded Odessa team overpowered the 16th ranked Harford team 85 – 79. The 20th ranked Trinity Valley team pulled a 51 – 38 victory over number 13th NEO and then 15th ranked San Jacinto took a 62 – 51 win over Hutchinson. In the final game of the night the 12th ranked Walters State team defeated the 21st place North Dakota SCS team.
“We played well in the second half but now we have got to go out and proved ourselves again tomorrow if we want to keep playing,” said SGTC’s Coach Frey. “The only way to keep playing now is to keep winning.”
This is the Lady Jets fourth appearance at the national tournament in five years and their fifth appearance in the history of the women’s basketball program.