ELLISVILLE — Mississippi Gulf Coast put a scare into No. 13 Jones on its home court, but the Lady Bulldogs fell 85-67 in the MACJC Tournament semifinals Wednesday.
Gulf Coast led by as many as 10 in the first half, up 26-16 with 5:09 to play in the second quarter. Jones, however, rallied to take a two-point lead into the halftime locker room and pulled away in the third quarter.
"We moved the ball well. We went inside and stuck to the game plan at the beginning," Lady Bulldogs coach Hope Adams said. "I have a lot of respect for that team. They have a lot of great players. I told my girls I'm proud of them. They came out and competed."
Gulf Coast (14-9) will advance to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament next week in Clinton. The bracket will be released later this week which will give the Lady Bulldogs their first-round opponent for Tuesday.
Shelli Thigpen (So., Wylie, Texas/Wylie) led Gulf Coast with 16 points and also grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists. Daphane White (Fr., Gulfport/St. Martin) had 14 points, a team-high six rebounds and three blocks, and Kayla Simmons (Fr., Brandon/Brandon) had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Azaria Howard (So., Richland/Richland) had two baskets in the final minute of the first quarter to give Gulf Coast a 19-14 lead at the first break. White had two free throws and a put-back, followed by a 3-pointer by Nya Irvin (Fr., Jackson/Murrah) to cap a 13-2 run for the biggest lead.
Jones' Keyara Jones nailed four 3-pointers of her own before halftime to fuel the Lady Bobcats' comeback. She finished with a game-high 27 points, shooting 7-of-13 from behind the arc.
"We got better as a team to understand where we are," Adams said. "We'll mature from this game. When it gets hard, we kind of crash for a moment, then try to catch back up. With teams like that, you can't do it."
"Going into next week, we'll be ready," Adams said. "We'll be a different team going up there. If we see them again, we'll get to play them on a neutral site, so it'll be a different game."
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