HARRISON, Ark. — The North Platte Community College women’s basketball team lost its first-round game Tuesday in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Tournament.
The Knights fell to No. 1 ranked, and top-seeded Illinois Central 76-55 at Pioneer Pavillion on the North Arkansas College campus.
"We fought and battled all night," North Platte head coach Jeff Thurman said. "ICC is a well-coached and high-level program and we did not quit."
The Knights fell down 8-2, but a Nahatabaa Nacona 3-pointer at the 5:06 mark of the first quarter pulled the Knights back to 8-5. Then 18 seconds later the Cougars countered with a 3-pointer from Emma Henderson to put Illinois Central up 11-5. From there, the Cougars stretched the lead to 17-7 at the 1:16 mark, then ended the quarter on a 7-2 run to lead 24-9 after 10 minutes.
"We played well in spurts tonight," Thurman said. "We didn’t shoot the ball well overall but we had open looks which is promising."
The Knights played on nearly-even scoring terms in the second quarter scoring 16 points and allowing 18 as the Cougars led at the half 42-25 then picked up the pace in the third quarter to lead 65-39 before North Platte came back in the fourth quarter with a 16-11 advantage.
Illinois Central held the edge in second-chance points 12-4 and a 41-29 advantage on points in the paint.
Madisyn Francis led North Platte with 19 points, Nacona had 13 and Nerea Castellano-Jarandilla added nine.
Katie Cox had seven rebounds to lead North Platte.
North Platte shot 32.2 percent from the floor, 25 percent on 24 3-point-shots and made 11 of 16 free throws (68.8 percent).
Illinois Central shot 36.6 percent from the floor, 27.8 percent on 18 3-pointers and 19 of 26 from the free-throw line (73.1 percent).
The Cougars out-rebounded North Platte 50-28. Both teams turned the ball over 18 times.
Abby Coates led ICC with 18 points, Marquitta Easley had 16 and Emma Henderson had 14 off the bench.
"We have another opportunity Thursday and we are looking forward to it," Thurman said. "It’s an honor to be here at the national tournament and representing our institution and our community."
Illinois Central improves to 28-1 and advances to a Thursday quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. against ninth seeded Union College (N.J.) a team that improved to 25-4 with a first-round win over South Suburban (Ill.) in the late game Tuesday 67-55.
North Platte falls to 8-23 and will play in a consolation round game Thursday at 11 a.m. against eighth-seeded South Suburban (Illinois) 25-6.
NPCC’s Thursday opponent is the South Suburban College Lady Bulldogs, who are returning to the national tournament for the sixth time.
Their last appearance was in 2015. They will enter the game with a record of 28-5, which is the most wins in school history. The Lady Bulldogs are led by All-American candidate Danisha Maggette who is scoring at a clip of 15.6 points per game. Maggette also is handing out 4.4 assists per game. She was also named the District L tournament Most Valuable Player. Zakah Blake leads the team in rebounds at 7.1 rebounds per game. Diamond Stallworth is averaging 3.5 steals per game. The Lady Bulldogs have relied on defensive pressure to get them through its historic season. SSC is holding teams to a stifling 52.5 points per game.
NJCCA Division II National Tournament
Pioneer Pavillion, Harrison, Arkansas
Game 1: (3) Kansas City Kansas, 82 vs. (14) Chesapeake College, 56
Game 2: (6) Pima Community College, 81 vs. (11) Lake Michigan College, 79
Game 3: (7) Cape Fear, 91 vs. (10) Metropolitan, 55
Game 4: (2) North Iowa Area, 90 vs. (15) Wayne County, 74
Game 5: (1) Illinois Central, 76 vs. (16) North Platte, 55
Game 6: (9) Union County 67, (8) South Suburban, 55
Game 7: (4) Moraine Valley vs. (13) Lackawanna, Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Game 8: (5) Niagara County vs. (12) Sinclair, Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Game 9: (Consolation bracket) נ(14) Chesapeake vs. (11) Lake Michigan, Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Game 10: (3) Kansas City Kansas CC vs. (6) Pima, Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Game 11: (7) Cape Fear vs. (2) North Iowa Area, Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Game 12: (Consolation bracket) נ(10) Metropolitan vs. (15) Wayne County, Thursday at 9 a.m.
Game 13: (16) North Platte vs. (8) South Suburban (Ill.), Thursday at 11 a.m.
Game 14: Thursday at 1 p.m. — Consolation bracket game
Game 15: Thursday at 3 p.m.
Game 16: (1) Illinois Central vs. (9) Union County, Thursday at 6 p.m.
Game 17: Thursday at 8 p.m.