NICEVILLE, Fla. (February 21, 2018) – Facing a must-win situation, NJCAA No. 8/Region 8 No. 3 Tallahassee Community College delivered on Wednesday, knocking off No. 7/No. 2 Northwest Florida State College 61-51 in Panhandle Conference women's basketball action.
Tallahassee (21-5) improved to 6-5 in PC play and is very much alive in the race for the conference's No. 2 seed and automatic berth to the NJCAA Region 8/FCSAA State Tournament. The Eagles are now a half game behind Northwest Florida State (22-5, 7-5) and can force a one-game playoff with the Raiders by winning Saturday's home finale against Pensacola State College.
For the last seven days, all Tallahassee could do was sit back and wait. After defeating Chipola College last Tuesday night, the Eagles got the help they needed when both Gulf Coast State College and Chipola beat Northwest Florida State. Finally, on Wednesday, Tallahassee controlled its own destiny, but would have to solve a Raider squad who had won the season's first two head-to-head meetings.
Tallahassee scored the game's first basket then broke a 4-4 tie with a 12-1 run to take control early on and led 16-5 following Japonica James' layup with 2:41 left in the first quarter. After the Raiders scored the final four points of the quarter to pull within seven, points became hard to come by for both sides in the second quarter.
Tallahassee scored just nine points but limited Northwest Florida State to eight – the 23rd time it has held an opponent to single digits in a quarter this season – and led 25-17 at the half.
The Eagles opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run and led 34-19, their largest lead of the night, following a pair of free throws by Nakiah Black at the 7:07 mark. Northwest Florida State outscored Tallahassee 21-9 over the final seven minutes and was within three (43-40) heading to the fourth.
Tallahassee watched Northwest Florida State get as close as one on two different occasions in the fourth, but the Eagles never relinquished the lead.
Out of the fourth quarter media timeout, a sequence of three scoring plays punctuated Tallahassee's ability to secure the victory.
Black hit an open three-pointer from the corner to push the lead to 52-48. Following a defensive stop, Dawn Gibson knocked down two free throws. Then Black picked off an errant pass and converted it into two points and a 56-48 lead with 2:28 remaining.
While both teams shot 42.9 percent from the floor in the second half, Northwest Florida State was 0-for-7 from distance and went 0-for-18 for the game. Tallahassee also outscored the Raiders at the free throw line, 19-11 and was 17-of-27 in the second half alone.
Tallahassee benefitted most from forcing 25 turnovers, which led to a 27 points and helped neutralize the Raiders' +8 margin on the glass.
Black led Tallahassee with 15 points and James had 12, the only two players in double-figures though eight different players got into the scoring column.
Tallahassee and Pensacola State will tip off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. With a win, the Eagles and Raiders will gear up for a one-game playoff on Tuesday.