After 25 straight wins to clinch its first Region 10 Championship, Cape Fear Community College continued its impressive play in the opening round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Women’s Basketball Championship on Tuesday.
Ranked No. 6 in the 16-team tournament, the Sea Devils pulled away in the final frame to advance to the quarterfinals following a 71-52 victory over No. 11 St. Clair Community College (Port Huron, Michigan) in Overland Park, Kansas.
“We have been really good in the fourth quarter all year,” said CFCC first-year coach Chris Harris. “I thought our bench was a little deeper than theirs and we wore them down.”
Cape Fear was relentless on pressuring the basketball and used strong low post defense by Destiny Campbell and Desaree Green to cause 28 turnovers. Chrystall Jerome was an X-factor on both ends of the floor and provided a big spark in the second half. With a two-possession lead for most of the game, the 5-foot, 2-inch freshman grabbed a steal and went coast-to-coast to give the Sea Devils a 47-40 advantage with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter. Jerome scored nine of her team-high 14 points after the break, with five steals and eight assists.
St. Clair was able to close the gap back to five, but a block by Green and three points off the turnover on a long range shot from Imani Parr made it 52-44 heading into the final period. Cape Fear outscored the Skippers 18-9 during the final 10 minutes of the game and grabbed its largest lead with 2:03 left.
Five straight points to open the frame brought the cushion to double digits, while Campbell swatted her seventh shot on the next possession. She put the game in check on the fast break at the five minute mark to go up, 61-46.
Monica Alexander chipped in with 12 points. Green also added 10 points and eight rebounds, finishing two boards and three blocks shy of a triple-double.
On the defensive end of the floor, Cape Fear held the Skippers to 30.6 percent shooting. The Sea Devils held a 52-44 advantage on the glass, making just 6 of 18 attempts from the free throw line.
“We played extremely hard defensively, but left too many points on the floor,” Harris added. “We won’t be able to get away with that tomorrow.”
Also helpful in the effort was Green, who grabbed eight rebounds. Jasmine Brown and De’najah Porter combined for 16 points, five steals and nine boards.
“Our players are excited to continue playing and need to rest up tonight,” said Harris.
Cape Fear improved its season-long 26-game winning streak to 26-1 overall. Meanwhile, St. Clair fell to 21-11 in defeat after clinching its fourth appearance in the national event over the last five years.