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Lady Knights fall to Mustangs 78-64 but advance to Nationals!
The No. 13 ranked (NJCAA DII poll) CCRI Lady Knights basketball team continued play in the District N/O Women’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday. In the championship game the Lady Knights faced No. 14 ranked and two-time defending National Champion Mustangs of Monroe College from New Rochelle, NY. CCRI lost to Monroe 78-64. With the victory Monroe College (22-7) is the District N Champion and with the loss the Lady Knights (24-5) are the District O Champion and both teams move on to the NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, IL March 19th-23rd.
The Lady Knights and Mustangs met for the fourth time this year and seventh time in the past two years, so these teams really know each other, are evenly matched, and know that the team that plays better will win. Sunday that team was Monroe. They jumped ahead early and took a 38-21 lead into halftime. Shots were just not falling in for the Lady Knights who shot 35% on the day. The Lady Knights kept battling and were able to close the lead to 13 points in the second half but every time they made a run Monroe had an answer. The Mustang held onto their lead and won by the eventual score of 78-64.
The Lady Knights were led by freshman Lexi Barros (New Bedford, MA) who scored a game-high 20 points, including five 3-pointers with two assists and three rebounds followed by Captain Jahira Smith (Brooklyn, NY) who added 14 points to increase her all-time total to raise her record to 1,021 career points. Also helping CCRI was Ahnyyah Jackson (Hackensack, NJ) with 12 points, two assists, two steals, and three rebounds, Jenna Ayala (Paterson, NJ) added seven points and 10 rebounds while Nyjah Porcher (New Britain, CT) added 10 rebounds to set the single-season rebounding record with 323 rebounds this year passing Carla Hands who ripped down 315 in 2003-04.
Head Coach Kate Lynch commented "We came out flat. You cannot come out flat against the two- time defending National Champion. They will take advantage of it and they did. I am proud of the team. They reached their goal of getting to the Nationals, but we have a lot of work to do over the next week in order to be ready for the type of teams that we will be facing. There is no room for error next week if we want to make a run at the championship."
The 16 teams for the National Tournament have been released and are as follows:
DISTRICT CHAMPIONS/TOURNAMENT QUALIFIERS
District A (Region 1): Mesa Community College, Ariz. (24-6)
District B (Region 6): Highland Community College, Kan. (27-5)
District C (Region 3): Erie Community College, N.Y. (21-5)
District D (Region 4A): South Suburban College, Ill. (21-12)
District E (Region 11): Iowa Central Community College (24-8)
District F (Regions 9, 13): North Platte Community College, Neb. (15-14)
District G (Region 12W): Lake Michigan College (25-6)
District H (Region 12E): St. Clair County Community College, Mich. (30-1)
District I (Region 12S): Owens Community College, Ohio (25-7)
District J (Region 10): Louisburg College, N.C. (28-3)
District K (Region 20): Chesapeake College, Md. (22-1)
District L (Region 4B): Elgin Community College, Ill. (26-6)
District M (Region 24): Illinois Central College (29-3)
District N (Regions 15, 19, 21): Monroe College, N.Y. (22-7)
District O (Regions 15, 19, 21): Community College of Rhode Island (24-5)
District P (Region 2, 16): St. Louis Community College, Mo. (19-9)
The Lady Knights are the No. 10 seed in the National Tournament and will play No. 7 seed Owens Community College (25-7) from Toledo, OH who was the District I Champion. The game will be played Tuesday March 19th at 1:00pm CST.
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 18,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.