Niagara County Community College’s dreams of an unbeaten season ended Wednesday afternoon in a 74-73 loss to Sinclair CC (Ohio) in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championship in Harrison, Ark.
Myalisa Beal made two free throws, her only points of the game, with 26 seconds left to win it for the Dayton area team and hand the Thunderwolves their first loss after 31 wins. It was the only time NCCC trailed in the second half. The Thunderwolves led by as many as 16 in the third quarter.
Coach Nate Beutel’s team, which had defeated opponents by an average of 34 points a game before Wednesday, seemed on the way to another blowout. NCCC went from a 26-26 halftime to a 57-45 lead entering the fourth quarter. Paige Emborski (Newfane) had 13 of her 15 points in the third period and Kenetria Redfern (Cheektowaga) scored 9 of her 11 in the frame for NCCC.
However, Sinclair guard Kierre James led her team’s comeback. She hit three 3-pointers for a 9-0 run early in the fourth to get her team in striking range. NCCC held on, taking a 73-65 lead with 2:12 left after a basket by Aubrey Halloran. That was the last points NCCC scored. NCCC had three turnovers and got off only one field goal attempt in the last 2:12.
Halloran, a freshman from Albany, led NCCC with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
James led Sinclair with 27 points, including 7 of 11 3-pointers. Amanda Schroeder had 26 points for the winners and Keeara Nared had 17 points and 14 rebounds.
The loss dropped NCCC to the consolation bracket. The No. 5 seed Thunderwolves will face the No. 3 Moraine Valley (Ill.) at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Moraine Valley was upset by Lackawanna (Pa.) College, 93-92, on Wednesday in the first round. Moraine had won 31 games in a row before losing on a basket by Colleen Cwalina.
NCCC men fall
The NCCC men suffered their first loss in the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Mary Miller Center in Danville, Ill., falling to No. 1 seed Kirkwood CC (Iowa), 80-65, Wednesday night.
The Thunderwolves will play a consolation bracket game at 3 p.m. on Friday against the loser of Thursday’s 9 p.m. quarterfinal game between Erie Community College and Milwaukee Area Tech. Two losses end a team’s competition in the tournament. With a win on Friday, NCCC could play in the fifth-place game on Saturday.
Coach Bill Beilein’s team was outscored 25-10 at the foul line. Kirkwood’s leading scorer, Devonte Thedford made more free throws (15) than NCCC attempted (10 for 14).
Kirkwood led 35-31 at the half after the Thunderwolves had the advantage until the Iowa team moved in front to stay, 28-26, with 3:41 left in the half.
Kirkwood started the second half on a 9-0 run to open a 44-31 lead with just 3:55 gone in the half and and NCCC never got closer than six (49-43) the rest of the way.
Sincere Ramsahai led NCCC with 18 points. Fode Camara had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Thedford had 21 points for Kirkwood.
ECC faces Milwaukee Tech
ECC was off on Wednesday after its 83-56 rout of Morton (Ill.) College on Tuesday morning. The Kats’ opponent, Milwaukee Area Tech (28-5), defeated Ancilla College, 101-87, in a first round game played Wednesday.
Milwaukee Tech shot 59 percent in its mid-day victory over Ancilla College of Donaldson, Ind.. The Wisconsin team was led by D’Angelo Young-Pryor, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, who had 22 points on 10 for 14 shooting. Shannon Sanfor Jr. had 19 points and Yuri Swinford 16 for Milwaukee, which made 64.7 of its shots in the first half in building a 55-41 lead.