CLINTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast proved the old basketball adage that pressing teams don't like to be pressed Tuesday, springing full-court pressure on LSU Eunice in an 81-74 win in the first round of the NJCAA Region 23 Women's Basketball Tournament.
"That was crazy, but we won," Gulf Coast coach Hope Adams said. "It was hectic. I knew it would be chaotic. For a minute, we got nervous and tried to run their game. Every time we stuck to the game plan, we were effective."
Kayla Simmons (Fr., Brandon/Brandon) had 20 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs (15-9) at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus. Allison Martin (Fr., Edwards/Raymond) had 16, Daphane White (Fr., Gulfport/St. Martin) added 13 and Shelli Thigpen (So., Wylie, Texas/Wylie) 11.
The win moves them into the semifinals, where they will play Copiah-Lincoln. Co-Lin beat Pearl River 69-66 in the first game Tuesday. The Bulldogs and Wolves will play at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The other semifinal will see Itawamba (21-4) take on Jones (25-2) at 3 p.m.
Tuesday's game was one of streaks. Gulf Coast led by six after the first quarter thanks to a 13-2 run, and it was up 30-28 at halftime.
That's when thing got frenetic. The Lady Bulldogs started the second half on an 8-0, then the Lady Bengals scored the next 10 to tie it up.
That's when Adams slapped the press on them, and it let Gulf Coast go on a 16-6 run.
"They did not like that," she said. "We're not built to press for the entire game, but I told them when we were ready I was going to throw it on them, and I knew we'd make a run."
The Lady Bengals, who had a 16-game win streak snapped, got back to within four with 8 minutes to play, but the Bulldogs started to get some runouts against the pressure, and Simmons cleaned things up. She scored 10 in the final four minutes to help ice it.
"She did great," Adams said. "She started off slow around the bucket; all of our bigs did. But toward the end, she got some big shots for us. She woke up."
NJCAA Region 23 Women's Basketball Tournament
Game 1: Copiah-Lincoln 69, Pearl River 66
Game 2: Gulf Coast 81, LSU Eunice 74
Game 3: Jones 72, Northeast 61
Game 4: Itawamba 78, East Central 68
Game 5: Gulf Coast (15-9) vs. Copiah-Lincoln (21-6), 1 p.m.
Game 6: Itawamba (21-4) vs. Jones (25-2), 3 p.m.
Championship: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 5 p.m.
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