OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The NIACC women’s basketball is going to the final four.
Freshman Cortni Rush scored 23 points, Chelsey Jacox scored 22 points and Lateeka Thompson scored 17 points to lift top-seeded NIACC to a 85-79 victory over Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Thursday in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II tournament.
“It feels great,” NIACC sophomore guard Lateeka Thompson said. “From last year, to not even winning the first round – to this, but I want the championship.”
NIACC (33-2) plays Mesa Community College in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday on the Johnson County Community College campus. Highland CC and St. Clair County CC meet in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday.
Fourth-seeded Mesa (26-5) topped 12th-seeded Chesapeake College 91-74 in its quarterfinal contest on Thursday.
NIACC, which is playing in its first national tournament in 20 years, is seeking its first berth in the national finals since the 1974-75 season when the Lady Trojans dropped a 59-58 decision to Temple Junior College in the inaugural junior college women’s basketball tournament.
“We are making it you know,” third-year NIACC coach Kelli Terrell said. “At this point, we have to have the mentality that no one can stop us.
“We have to keep pushing and pushing and keep standing up to adversity.”
NIACC, which hasn’t lost since Jan. 18, received a stiff test from ninth-seeded Cincinnati State (19-11). The Surge outrebounded the Lady Trojans 65-38 and battled the Lady Trojans for the entire contest.
The Lady Trojans were able to connect on enough free throws down the stretch to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
Thompson, who scored 17 points with 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists, said the Lady Trojans were fired up before the quarterfinal-round contest.
“We heard before the game that their coach said they’re ready for an upset,” Thompson said. “So we had to show them.”
Freshman Cortni Rush led NIACC with 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. The Lady Trojans also received 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds from sophomore Chelsey Jacox and 11 points from sophomore Morgan Walker.
Rush was 4 of 9 from 3-point range giving her 83 three-point goals during her freshman season, which ranks fifth all-time on the school’s all-time career list.
Sophomore Emily Bell added nine points on three 3-point goals. The three 3-point goals gave Bell 100 for her career, which ranks third on the school’s all-time list.
NIACC was 19 of 25 from the free-throw line. Jacox was 9 of 9, including several in the final minutes, and Thompson was 7 of 10 from the charity stripe.
“A couple of times, I wish we would have used more of the clock,” Terrell said, “but we stayed composed, held on to the ball and drew fouls when we needed to.”
Now NIACC is one win away from playing in the national game and two wins away from just the third national championship in school history.
“With these girls, I can absolutely believe it,” Terrell said.
Notes: Terrell has a career record of 63-34 … Jacox has 1,142 career points and 302 career assists, which rank first in school history … Jacox has 153 career steals (7th in school history) Thompson has 845 career points (8th in school history), 367 career rebounds (6th in school history), 166 assists (8th in school history) and 169 career steals (tied for fourth in school history).
– By Kirk Hardcastle, NIACC sports information director.
NIACC 85, CINCINNATI STATE 79
Cincinnati State – Ericka Fitzpatrick 16, Hannah Stephenson 3, Phylicia Johnson 16, Danielle Cheatum 7, Alexus Chinn 16, Casia Cicha 3, Chelsea Paddy 2, Emily Fite 16.Totals – 29-75 16-25 85.
NIACC – Chelsey Jacox 22, Lateeka Thompson 17, Sierra Ford-Washington 3, Cortni Rush 23, Emily Bell 9, Morgan Walker 11. Totals – 29-74 19-25 85.
3-point goals – Cincinnati State (5-13): Johnson 4, Cicha 1. NIACC (8-29): Jacox 1, Rush 4, Bell 3. Total fouls – Cincinnati State 22, NIACC 20. Fouled out – Chinn. Score at half:NIACC 46, Cincinnati State 42.