[ By STEVE CARPENTER ]
[ BLUE DRAGON SPORTS INFORMATION ]
LUBBOCK, Texas — The Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team kept its unbeaten streak in the NJCAA National Tournament quarterfinal round alive.
Hutchinson’s No. 6 nationally ranked defense continued to sparkle, holding tournament No. 5 seed Odessa to a season-low offensive output in a 66-50 quarterfinal victory on Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Now 33-3, the No. 8-ranked and No. 13-seed Blue Dragons advance to their sixth all-time national semifinal and first since 2015. Hutchinson will play eighth-seed New Mexico Junior College in the first semifinal at 4 p.m. on Friday. Trinity Valley and Gulf Coast State will play in the second semifinal at 6 p.m.
The 2019 Blue Dragons tie the 2017 Blue Dragons for the fourth-most wins in a season in Hutch women’s basketball history.
Hutchinson moved to 6-0 all-time in NJCAA Tournament quarterfinal games by holding Odessa (24-8) to 35.2 percent overall shooting and forcing 13 turnovers. The Blue Dragons limited the Wranglers to just 3 of 22 from outside the 3-point line.
In three tournament games this season, Hutchinson’s defense has held Western Nebraska, Angelina and Odessa to a combined 64 points under those teams’ scoring average. Angelina and Odessa were a combined 4 of 42 from 3-point range.
Freshman Makayla Vannett led the Blue Dragons in scoring for the third-straight national tournament game with 18 points. She was 4 of 11 from 3-point range and 4 of 5 from the foul line. Vannett now has 56 points and 14 3-pointers in three tournament games.
Three Blue Dragons reached double figures against Odessa. Dajanae Roebuck, who is closing in on the 1,000 career point mark – Roebuck has 986 career points after Thursday. She had 14 points and six rebounds. Tia Bradshaw scored in double figures for the second-straight game with 11 points.
Jada Mickens hit two huge 3-pointers and finished with eight points and six rebounds. Mickens moved into the career rebounding Top 10 on Thursday. Now with 506 rebounds, Mickens is No. 8 on the all-time list. Abby Ogle finished with six points.
The Blue Dragons were 23 of 53 shooting (43.4 percent) for the game. Hutch hit 10 of 27 3-point goals and went 10 of 13 from the foul line. Hutchinson was well below its season turnover average with 11 miscues. The Dragons out-rebounded Odessa 31-28.
Kamryn Lemon and Julan McDonald combined for 35 of Odessa’s 50 total points on Thursday. Lemon had 18 points on 7 of 18 shooting, but was 0 of 7 from 3-point range. She also had six rebounds, five assists and four turnovers. McDonald had 17 points.
Odessa was 19 of 54 overall (35.2 percent), 3 of 22 from distance and 9 of 11 from the charity stripe. Odessa had 13 turnovers.
Tied at 11 after one quarter, the Blue Dragons trailed 17-13 with 6:47 to play in the second period after a McDonald basket. A 6-2 Hutch run tied the game at 19 on two Vannett free throws with 4:43 to play in period. The game was tied again at 21 with 3:17 left.
The game started to turn at that points as Hutch hit the first of four 3-pointers with the shot club at 2 seconds or less.
Schimmel buried a contested 3 from the left corner for a 24-21 lead with 2:21 to play. Vannett then popped a long 3 to go up six with 1:35 left. The Dragons closed the half on a 9-0 run after hard work on the offensive boards by Kelsey Brett and Tijuana Kimbroeventually became a wide-open Bradshaw look at a 3 from the top of the key with 7 seconds left. Hutch led 30-21 at halftime, closing the half on a 17-4 run.
The Dragons lead 36-29 with 621 to go in the third quarter. Vannett hit 2 of 3 free throws. A Roebuck steal turned into a Ogle transition layup and Odessa timeout with 5:09 left in the period with Hutch leading 40-29. The clutch late-shot clock 3-point shooting returned. Roebuck hit a 3-pointer with 3:50 left gave Hutch a 43-31 lead. Vannett nailed a trey with 1 second left on the shot clock to give Hutch its largest lead of the game at 17 with 2:37 left. Brett joined the clutch club with a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded for a 51-36 lead with 58 seconds left in the third.
Hutchinson led 52-36 after three quarters.
Odessa started the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run to close with 54-45 with 6:27 to go after a Lemon jumper. Bradshaw then took charge with back-to-back jumpers, the second coming with 4:23 to play that gave the Blue Dragons a 58-47 lead. Hutchinson finished the game on a 12-5 run and held the Wranglers without a field goal for 6 minutes, 46 seconds.
GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are 19-10 all-time in the NJCAA Tournament, including 6-0 in the quarterfinal round. … Hutch wins its first-ever game with Odessa. The teams played only one other time. Odessa won 77-66 on Jan. 10, 1980. … This was all-time win No. 976. … This was Hutch’s seventh game of 10 or more 3-pointers. … Now with 93 3-pointers this season, Makayla Vannett moves up to sixth on the single-season 3-point chart, moving past Brittany Dietz (2001-03). … Dejanae Roebuck moved up to sixth on the single-season free throw list (137) and sixth on the career free-throw list (236). … Abby Ogle is now eighth on the single season steals list with 96. … The 2019 Blue Dragons became the second team in program history to reach 250 3-pointers in a season. … The Blue Dragons are 5-1 against nationally ranked teams this season.