NWF women come up just short against Chipola
Northwest Florida Daily News
Chipola shocks NWF women in final seconds
By TRAVIS DOWNEY Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4476 | firstname.lastname@example.org
NICEVILLE — As Shicole Watts' teammates gathered around her, Chipola coach David Lane reached for Northwest Florida State College coach Patrick Harrington's right hand, shaking his head in disbelief.
Watts' last-second lay-up on a cross-court inbound pass with less than two seconds left had rolled around and off the rim, brining an end to the Raiders' resilient second half-comeback effort and allowing Chipola to escape The Arena with a 57-56 win on Saturday night. That it even came to that had all in The Arena buzzing. For 25 minutes on Saturday night, the NWF State women's basketball team appeared flat, disinterested in its game against its most bitter Panhandle Conference rival.
NWF State shot just 21 percent from the field in the first half — including missing all six from behind the 3-point line — and was outrebounded by a 26-17 margin in digging itself a 15-point halftime deficit.
Then, it nearly wiped it all away with an inspired second-half rally that fell short.
"In order for us to be successful, we have to defend with effort," Harrington said. "The first 25 minutes, obviously, our effort wasn't where it needed to be. You have to learn from that, but what they really need to take from this is they can be 20 points down to a Panhandle Conference team that's really good and come all the way back."
NWF State got back into it thanks to improved shooting in the second half, where the Raiders shot 56 percent from the field.
Shae Kelley and JoAnna Harden, who each had eight points in the first half, also reasserted themselves on the offensive end down the stretch. Kelley scored 16 of her team-high 24 points in the second half, seemingly willing the Raiders back from what was a 15-point deficit at the break.
Trailing 54-47 it was Harden, who finished with 16 points, that made things interesting at the 1:35 mark. Harden drove to the basket and picked up a foul on a lay-up. She connected on the free throw, making it a 54-50 ballgame.
Chipola answered on its ensuing trip down the floor as O'Neal Session connected on a high-arching long-range 3-pointer.
Harden responded with a 3-pointer of her own, making it 56-53, setting the stage for a dramatic finish. An overand-back violation against Chipola gave NWF State the ball. A pair of Watts free throws cut the lead to just one at 56-55 with 22 seconds remaining.
After Chipola missed on the front end of a one-and-one at the line on its ensuing possession, NWF State sent Kelley to the line when she was fouled on a drive. Kelley missed both attempts, but a lane violation gave her a third free throw, which she coolly hit to knot the game at 56-56.
Chipola's Sara Djassi hit the second of two free throws, giving the Lady Indians a one-point lead with 1.8 showing on the game clock, setting the Raiders last-gasp effort.
Denaya Brazzle led Chipola (15-7, 3-3) with 15 points while 6-6 center Jeniece Johnson finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
"We need to focus on what we did well because we need to draw on that the next time we play," said Harrington.
NWF State returns to action on Wednesday when it continues conference play at home against Pensacola. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. at The Arena.