#TCCBasketball: Eagles rally to defeat Chipola

Japonica James
Photo courtesy of Greg Rowland

MARIANNA, Fla. (January 23, 2018) – NJCAA No. 6/Region 8 No. 3 Tallahassee Community College rallied from a 12-point, fourth quarter deficit to defeat Region 8 No. 6 Chipola College, 70-69, on Tuesday in women's basketball action. 

With the game tied at 68, Japonica James powered her way through the paint for the go-ahead score with 17 seconds remaining – the last of her 13 fourth-quarter points. Chipola had a chance to force overtime after Juliunn Redmond fouled Cortajia Sanders with .02 remaining, but Sanders missed the first free throw, all but clinching Tallahassee's first victory in Marianna since February 6, 2010. 

Tallahassee improved to 18-2, its best record after 20 games since a 19-1 mark in 1996-97.   

Of much greater significance, the Eagles improved to 3-2 in Panhandle Conference play and will find itself in a second-place tie following Wednesday's showdown between co-leaders Gulf Coast State College and Northwest Florida State College. The Gulf Coast State-Northwest Florida State loser will fall back into a tie with Tallahassee while the winner will enjoy a one-game lead over the Eagles. 

Chipola led 32-30 at the half and increased its lead to as many as 13 points (53-40) following a 9-0 run late in the third quarter. 

Tallahassee trailed 56-44 through three quarters and still faced a double-digit deficit following Valerie's Nesbitt's "and one" opportunity with 5:30 remaining. Nesbitt's basket put Chipola in front 60-50, but she missed the free throw, a recurring theme for the hosts, who went just 3-of-11 from the charity stripe in the second half. 

Three minutes and 13 unanswered points later, Tallahassee had a 63-60 lead with 2:14 remaining. 

On Chipola's ensuing possession, Tyra Johnson knocked down a game-tying three and set up a thrilling final two minutes. 

Redmond put the Eagles back in front with a free throw and James' basket extended the lead to three with 49 seconds remaining, but Chipola had another answer. This time it was Sanders who hit the clutch three-pointer, tying the game at 68-all. 

She finished with 24 points and hit four of the Indians' 10 three-pointers. 

Tallahassee won despite leading scorer Jas Hill being held to just two points, 20 below her season average (22.8). The Eagles also went 0-for-7 from long distance – their first game without a made three-pointer under head coach Franqua "Q" Bedell – snapping a streak of 159 consecutive games overall with at least one three-pointer. 

The last time Tallahassee failed to connect from behind the arc was November 22, 2012, against Miami Dade College. 

James finished with 26 points for Tallahassee. Redmond came off the bench to score 11. 

Tallahassee will host Gulf Coast State on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.