Cougars Cruise to Elite 8 with Win over North Platte
Abby Coates’s 18 points, five rebounds and four steals led the No. 1 seeded ICC women’s basketball team to a 76-55 victory over No. 16 seed North Platte, Nebraska, in the opening round of the NJCAA Division II national tournament on Tuesday evening in Harrison, Arkansa.
Marquitta Easley added 16 points and Emma Henderson 14 points to help on offense, while the Cougar defense held NPCC to 32 percent field goal shooting and out-rebounded them 50-28 to get the win. The win moves the Cougars’ record to 32-1 overall, making that 32 consecutive wins on the season.
Coates got the first basket for ICC on a nice high-low feed from Madison Faulkner, followed by Marquitta Easley and Summer Stoewer layups to take a 7-2 lead. Emma Henderson nailed a 3-pointer, Kathy Pinnock-Branford had two scores, and Coates a basket to push the advantage to 17-5. The Cougars added four free throws and polished off the quarter with another Henderson trey, assisted by Josi Becker, to take a 24-9 lead after one.
Henderson splashed in another 3-pointer, assisted by Becker, on a set play to open the second quarter, but the Knights answered with three treys in the period to cut their deficit to 36-23. ICC closed out the last 1:20 of the quarter with an Easley score, a coast-to-coast layup by Stoewer, and a Moriah Ward basket, with another assist from Becker, to grab a 42-25 halftime lead.
The Cougars got back on track in the third, as they attacked the basket early and often. Coates, Faulkner and Pinnock-Branford combined for scores to push the lead to 52-28 with 6:26 to play, and the Cougars got to the free throw line to help open their largest lead at 62-35. Jordyn Hare connected on a 3-pointer to close out the quarter and put ICC up 65-39 heading into the final stanza.
All Cougars saw action in the final period and got a taste of tournament action as ICC finished off the Knights.
Faulkner (8 reb, 6 pts) Stoewer (8 reb, 4 pts) Pinnock-Branford (7 reb, 5 pts) Coates (18 pts, 5 reb, 4 st) Easley (16 pts) Becker (6 asts, 4 pts) Hare (4 reb, 3 pts) Brown (1 pt) Overman (1 reb) Henderson (14 pts, 4 reb)
ICC advances to the Elite 8 for the second consecutive year, where they will play Union County (Wilmington, NC) on Thursday, March 21 at 6:00 pm in quarterfinal action. Alex Staab will provide free audio at mixlr.com/StaabAlex or livestream is available on NJCAATV.com as pay-per-view; $4.99 for a single game or $14.99 for a tourney pass.
(Photo courtesy of the NJCAA)