By Adam Gore
SALINA, Kan. – The Itawamba Community College women’s basketball team saw its season come to an end on Tuesday in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament.
The Lady Indians fell 57-46 to No. 5 Northwest Florida State.
Trailing 36-33 at halftime, ICC opened the second half on a 10-minute scoring drought allowing Northwest Florida to climb out to a 10-point advantage before a three-pointer by Ty-Nita Baker trimmed the lead to nine with under three minutes to play, but the overwhelming size advantage of Northwest Florida State helped the Lady Raiders pull away.
“We went into an absolute drought for the first 10 minutes of the second half,” said ICC head coach Nanci Gray, whose team finished 19-10. “We didn’t have anyone that could score, missed eight lay-ups, didn’t have anybody that could hit the 3, but the kids never stopped fighting and I was very proud of the effort they gave all night despite the struggles.”
Baker, a sophomore guard from Houston, caught the eye of numerous SEC and other Division I scouts, scoring a game-high 19 points while grabbing four rebounds, blocking two shots and dishing out three assists for the Lady Indians.
ICC shot just 27.4 percent from the floor (17 of 62) and was outrebounded 54-36.
Freshman forward Tia Coleman (Memphis) added 10 points and 12 rebounds for ICC while sophomore forward Tavarsha Scott led the Lady Raiders (25-4) with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Northwest Florida State advances to play sixth-ranked Walters State (Tenn.) – 29-1 with a 23-game winning streak – in a quarterfinal tonight.
ICC was making its first NJCAA Tournament appearance since 1975.
Gray was a member of the then-Indianettes and earned NJCAA honorable mention All-American honors that season.