By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – So much for a state tournament hangover.
Itawamba Community College’s Lady Indians, less than a week after winning the MACJC State Tournament championship on their home court in Fulton, opened NJCAA Region 23 Tournament play Wednesday with a convincing 77-48 victory against Coahoma at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum.
The win puts ICC (25-2) in Friday’s 3 p.m. semifinals against Holmes or Pearl River. The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Region 23 winner advances to the NJCAA National Tournament in Salina, Kansas. ICC has not qualified since 1975, when Lady Indians coach Nanci Gray was a player.
“We would like to see ourselves in Kansas,” Gray said postgame. “If we continue to play hard we’ll have the opportunity to do that.”
ICC saw eight players score in the first half as the Lady Indians charged to a 45-18 halftime lead.
Jameika Hoskins scored 10 of her team-high 15 points in the first half for ICC, which took a 20-2 lead on her jumper from the right wing with 12 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the first half.
ICC shot 52 percent from the field while holding Coahoma to 29 percent and forcing 15 turnovers.
“We played really well in the first half,” Gray said. “We were focused and made a lot of things happen on offense. We also shut down what they were trying to do.”
Coahoma’s big gun, Erica Collins was 3 of 10 from the field in the first half. She finished with just 10 points.
The Lady Tigers (13-12) made some noise in the second half when they pulled to within 16 points with 8:19 remaining. ICC responded with a 14-3 run to go up 71-44 with 3:59 left on a layup by Shay Bonner.
ICC had five players score in double figures, including Hoskins. LaPrecious Naylon added 14, Jasmine Hampton 11, Ty-Nita Baker 10 and Boner 10.
MEN’S PLAY TODAY
The men’s portion of the tournament will be played today, starting at 1 p.m. when East Mississippi plays Jones.
That game will be followed by Holmes vs. Pearl River at 3, Gulf Coast vs. Hinds at 6 and Northwest vs. Southern (La.) Shreveport at 8.