#TCCBasketball: Eagle women punch ticket to Ocala

Japonica James
Photo courtesy of Greg Rowland

MARIANNA, Fla. (February 27, 2018) – Tallahassee Community College's women's basketball team won its fourth straight game on Tuesday, defeating Northwest Florida State College, 57-53, in a one-game playoff to advance to next week's NJCAA Region 8/FCSAA State Tournament as the Panhandle Conference runners-up. 

The eight-team, single-elimination tournament will take place in Ocala, Fla., March 8-10. Tallahassee, ranked No. 7 in the final NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball Poll, released earlier on Tuesday, will open tournament play at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 8, against Mid-Florida Conference Champion Daytona State College. 

Tallahassee has faced elimination since February 13 when it trailed second-place Northwest Florida State by three games with three to play in the PC standings, but the Eagles closed the season with three straight victories to catch the Raiders and force the teams' fourth meeting.

Tuesday's game was a defensive slugfest. 

Tallahassee shot just 18-of-54 from the field (33.3 percent) and was just a little better from long distance, going 6-for-16 (37.5 percent). Northwest Florida State managed to hit just 16-of-49 attempts from the floor (32.7 percent) and, after missing all 18 three-point attempts in last Wednesday's loss to the Eagles, hit just 3-of-17 on Tuesday. 

The game was tied at 18 after one quarter, and Tallahassee led 30-29 at the half. Then came the crucial third quarter. 

Tallahassee outscored Northwest Florida State, 19-10, in the third then rattled off the first five points of the fourth quarter to open up 54-39 lead. Game over? Not so fast. 

The Eagles went the final 9:11 without a field goal and managed just three points the rest of the game. To make matters worse, leading scorer Nakiah Black hobbled off the floor with a leg cramp just as the Raiders made a charge. 

Back-to-back three-pointers ignited an 8-0 run and by the 2:00 mark, Tallahassee's lead was just two, 55-53, but the Raiders didn't score another point. 

Japonica James hit one of two from the line to extend the lead to three with just under a minute left and the Eagles survived a pair of game-tying three-point attempts in the final 10 seconds. 

James hit another free throw with .3 left to clinch the victory. She finished with 17 points and seven steals. 

Black hit 6-of-8 three-pointers en route to a 23-point night.