03.19.13: The CCRI Lady Knights basketball team played the first game of the Division II Women's Basketball National Tournament held at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, IL on Tuesday at 10:00am EST. CCRI (24-5) came into the game as the No. 10 seed and the Express of Owens Community College (25-7) were the No. 7 seed. The Lady Knights defeated the Express 76-68 in overtime. With the victory the Lady Knights improve to 25-5 on the season and will advance to the Quarterfinals to play No. 2 seed Louisburg College (29-3) who defeated No. 15 seed Erie Community College (21-6) 66-49 in the second game of the tournament . The two winners will meet Wednesday night at 9:00pm EST (8:00pm CST).
The Lady Knights fell behind early in the game 5-0 and had to play catch-up for pretty much all of regulation. The Lady Knights trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half with the score 26-13 and went into halftime trailing 32-27. Leading the Lady Knights in the first half was Lexi Barros (New Bedford, MA) who scored nine points in the first half, followed by Jenna Ayala (Paterson, NJ) with six points, and Co-Captain Jahira Smith (Brooklyn, NY) added five first half points. Leading the way for the Express was Mackenzie Heacock with 11 first half points.
In the second half the Lady Knights once again found themselves trailing by 11 points. However, the Lady Knights have been in many battles and were not intimidated by the national stage or the scoreboard. CCRI kept chipping away at the Express lead cutting it to six points after back-to-back 3-pointers from Barros and Ahnyyah Jackson (Hackensack, NJ) making the score 51-45 Owens. The Lady Knights cut the lead to three points 57-54 after a basket by Jenna Ayala making the score 57-54 Owens. But Owens was not going to hand the game to CCRI, they were going to have to earn it as they increased the leads back to seven points, 64-57 Owens, with less than three minutes remaining. The Lady Knights scored the next seven points beginning with a 3-pointer from Lexi Barros and ended the run with by tying the game 64-64 in a driving "tear drop" floater from Barros who began to take over the game. Owens called a timeout with 8.9 second left to draw-up a final play but the Lady Knights were up to the task and got the last second stop to send the game to overtime tied at 64.
Owens scored the first basket in OT to go up 66-64. Ahnyyah Jackson answered with a 3-pointer to give the Lady Knights their first lead of the game. Owens answered with a basket to retake the lead 68-67. But the Lady Knights would not be denied today as they closed the game with a spectacular 9-0 run with baskets and free throws from Barros and Nyjah Porcher (New Britain, CT). Final score 76-68 CCRI!
Leading the way for the Lady Knights was Lexi Barros with a game-high and career high 28 points, including 4-6 from beyond the 3-point arc, with six rebounds, three steals, two assist and a blocked shot. Also having a big game for the Lady Knights was Nyjah Porcher with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals while Jenna Ayala charted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Rounding-out the CCRI attack was Ahnyyah Jackson with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal and Jahira Smith added seven points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots while facing heavy defensive pressure for the entire game.
Head Coach Kate Lynch commented after the great comeback: "We came out really flat. I think a lot of it had to do with nerves. We made some mental errors and Owens capitalized early. I am so proud of these young ladies. They played with so much heart. They never gave up and they kept fighting."
The Lady Knights will now face No. 2 seed Louisburg College (29-3) from Louisburg, NC at 9:00pm EST (8:00pm 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.
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