03.21.13: The CCRI Lady Knights continued play at the NJCAA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, IL. The Lady Knights were in the consolation bracket vs. Highland Community College (HCC) from Highland, KS. The Lady Knights lost Highland CC 71-47. With the loss CCRI's season comes to an end with a 25-7 record, the third best record ever in Lady Knights' history (29-4 in 2004-05 and 26-8 in 2007-08).
The Lady Knights came out of the gates playing with tremendous intensity playing excellent defense which led to easy baskets and gave them a 12-2 lead just four minutes into the game. CCRI kept up the early pressure and held a 17-8 lead with 14 minutes left in the half. But Highland is also high-scoring team and they answered with Janelle Sailing who sank five first half 3-pointers, a couple from NBA range. Highland tied the score 19-19 with 8:26 left. CCRI answered back and took a three point lead 23-20 with 6:38 left. But the 3-pointers kept coming from HCC as they closed the half with a 16-9 run to take a 36-32 halftime lead. The Lady Knights shot 54% from the floor in the first half and HCC 37% but HCC also made six 3-pointers which gave them the halftime advantage.
In the second half the Lady Knights offense went ice cold as they only managed to shoot 19% from the field while Highland shot 42% and made a few more 3-pointers. Highland was able to extend its lead to 14 points with the score 55-41 with 10 minutes left in the game and the Lady Knights just couldn't make a basket which is usually never a problem for CCRI. HCC extended the lead to 20 points and never looked back as they went on to win by the final score of 71-47.
Leading the way for the Lady Knights was Co-Captain Jahira Smith (Brooklyn, NY) with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Smith ends her legendary CCRI career as the all-time leader in: scoring with 1,058 points (Amanda Ward 956), assists with 315 (Nicole Girard 274), steals with 259 (Denise Scott 162), and made free-throws with 186 (Jerilynn Johnson 183). Also finishing an historic career was Nyjah Porcher (New Britain, CT) who had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists. Porcher ends her CCRI career setting the single-season rebound record with 340 rebounds this year (315 Carla Hands). In addition, Porcher is No. 2 on the career rebounding list with 558 career rebounds just four rebounds shy of Kris Norberg who had 562. Sailing of Highland led all scorers with 20 points, including six 3-pointers.
Head Coach Kate Lynch commented after the final game: "We came out strong and intense. Highland is a great team, they fought back and made plays when they needed to. Once they went up on us, we couldn't seem to find ourselves." she added "Very proud overall of what this team has accomplished and what the sophomores have accomplished individually as well. This class has put our program back on the map and its important that we keep building."
Post-season awards will be announced by the department this week and there are many Lady Knights who have earned merits of distinction. The first wave of honors will be released Monday.
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.