Tag: NJCAA Women’s Basketball

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The Rockets Wind it Up with Wins

by Joel Gray

Camden, AR—In their final games of the 2018-19 basketball season, the SAU Tech women and men continued their nearly-inconceivable accomplishment—winning in their first seasons on the basketball court. On Thursday (2/28) the victories came over fellow Region 2 Conference member, National Park College from Hot Springs, AR, whom both Rockets squads had defeated in their earlier matchups back in January. This time the Lady Rockets prevailed over NPC, 79-63, and the Rocket men defeated the Nighthawks, 105-99.

This game was the final outing for the Tech teams in Shaddock Fieldhouse—they’ll be playing on campus next season—and Coach Andre Williams’ women took to the floor first, methodically managing the game against their Nighthawks counterparts, finishing the first quarter with a 16-11 lead. National Park kept it close, however, getting outscored in the second period by only a point, and at intermission, the Tech ladies only led 36-30. In the third, a 17-13 advantage inched the Rockets out a bit further to 53-43. And in the fourth ten-minute stanza, a six-point margin, 26-20, added up to the final tally and a Tech victory by sixteen points.

National Park’s women had four players with double-digits on the board, and three with multiple 3-pointers. Both categories were led by Hailee Crosby who totaled 27 points, hitting six shots from beyond-the-arc. The Lady Nighthawks were also concluding their inaugural season, doing so with a 4-14 overall record, 0-4 in Region 2 play.

Three Lady Rockets scored ten-or-more in this final game. Devena Smith’s team-leading 27 points were part of an outstanding personal performance that included a double-double comprised of 12 field goals and ten rebounds. Brandashia Hargraves was next with 20 points—12 of them coming on her four treys. Alex Parris added another 14.

Brandashia completes the regular-season as the Region 2 Conference’s top 3-Point Percentage shooter with a 50% output—that stat also landing her in the second-place position in the nation. Devena finishes as Region 2’s leader in Points-Per-Game (16.6), as well as in Field Goal Percentage (59.4%).
The Lady Rockets finish at 11-6 overall, and 2-2 in the R2C.

It was also Sophomore Night for SAU Tech, and after the women’s contest, there was a poignant pause to honor the athletes who were completing their careers as Rockets. The Ladies bid farewell to Alex Parris and Brandashia Hargraves, while the men said good-bye to Miles Weber, Jamie Hastings, and Mike Boatright.

Next, the men hit the hardwood, and the Nighthawks flew out to an early first-half lead, shocking the Shaddock Fieldhouse home crowd with a 12-0 run from the tip-off. Head Coach Marty Levinson called timeout and rallied his perhaps-rattled Rockets, and they fought back against the fierce determination of National Park, narrowing the margin, but remaining behind at the half, 49-46.

After the break, nearly seven more minutes would see NPC out front on the board, but at the 13:04 mark of the second half, the Rockets finally took the lead for the first time in the game, 67-66. It was the outstanding performances of Sheldon Steven and Manny Anderson—coming out of the locker room—that ignited the comeback, and the Tech men went on to outscore the Nighthawks 38-33 the rest of the way to secure the six-point come-from-behind victory.

National Park had four in double-digits, and three with multiple threes. K. J. Corder led the way with 27 points and three treys. The disappointing loss, in what was also their final game of the season, dropped the Nighthawks to 16-8 overall, but 0-6 in the Region 2 Conference.
The Rockets fixed five players in double-digits, and two with multiple three-pointers. Steven

Led, scoring 24 points—19 in the second half—and hit two from 3-point range. Anderson was next with 19—16 of those also in the second half. He also racked up 12 rebounds. Mike Boatright added 18 while sneaking five steals onto the stat-sheet. Will Bynum put up 13—6 of them coming on his two threes. And Malik Miller tallied 12 more to the score, also securing five steals for the defense.
At the end of the regular-season, Steven lands in first place in the Region 2 Conference standings in Points-Per-Game (19.9) and also in Total Points (517). Boatright is first in Steals (90), and Jaland Mitchell (who missed this final game, due to injury) finishes in first place in Blocks (46).

The Rockets complete the year at 19-10 overall, and 5-1 in the conference.
The season is over for Tech now, but only because the NJCAA requires new athletic participants to serve a one-year probationary period which makes them ineligible to win a conference title or to play in the post-season. How much farther might the Rockets have gone? That, of course, is speculative, but there would have been at least one more game per squad. The Lady Rockets finished 2nd in Region 2 and could have challenged NorthArk for the championship, and—amazingly—the men finished 1st in the regular-season standings and would have hosted a playoff game in the conference’s post-season.

Nevertheless, SAU Tech’s inauguration into junior college athletics can only be seen as a success. The future for the tiny East Camden, AR junior college has been foreshadowed. The Rockets have launched, and their impact upon NJCAA Division-II basketball is bound to be a thrill to behold.

women basketball team and coach

Lady Rockets Bravely Face the Challenge

By Joel Gray

Camden, AR—Coach Andre Williams’ first-year 9-4 Lady Rockets faced their most important challenge of the season on Friday (2/1), and they ennobled themselves in the eyes of all onlookers by going toe-to-toe, for four full quarters, with the #6 team in the nation, the 17-4 North Arkansas College Lady Pioneers, falling just short of the upset, 64-58.

The drama of this Region 2 Conference contest essentially involved emotion—the very best element of college athletics.

The North Arkansas Lady Pioneers were already the league champions by virtue of default. SAU Tech and National Park are ineligible for the title in their first season of NJCAA play, and the remaining conference member, ASU-MidSouth, canceled their conference schedule due to injuries. Nevertheless, the powerful Pioneers have pounded opponents all season long, climbing as high as #5 in the national poll along the way, while playing nearly twice the number of games as Tech. It is just a fact that “saving face” enters one’s mind when that is arguably all that one has to lose.

The Lady Rockets, playing in their inaugural season, had begun 5-0 against Division-I competition, exceeding all expectations, and now had an opportunity to, not only knock off a top-ten team, but to sit atop the Region 2 standings, undefeated in league play, and in sole possession of first place, while the “champions” looked up at them from below.

Even though it could not alter the official outcome of the conference championship, there was every reason to play as if it did.

There were ominous overtones at the outset, however, as the matter of a uniform mix-up (Tech had taken their road blues to Shaddock Fieldhouse) and a slight delay in supplying information to the scorer’s table cost the Lady Rockets two technical fouls. The Lady Rockets were down 2-0 even before the opening tip-off. Then the 1st quarter would reach nearly the mid-way mark before they found the bucket, scoring their first points at the 5:14 mark of the opening period. Nevertheless, the much taller and—seemingly—faster Pioneer women had only managed a meager eight points themselves by this point. Both squads had struggled with early shooting, perhaps an indication that all involved knew the magnitude of the moment and had yet to settle into it. The sputtering continued to the end of the period, and Tech only trailed by three, 15-12.

The teams gathered themselves for the second quarter and shooting improved for both sides. The Lady Rockets drew even for the first time at the 8:25 mark, and jumped ahead for their first lead less than two minutes later, with 7:04 to go before halftime. It was short-lived success, however, as the Pioneers powered back to put themselves ahead at the the half, 40-34.

The third period saw SAU Tech close the gap, tying the game again at the 9-minute mark, and slipping ahead once more with 8:20 to go. Nevertheless, less than a minute later, the Lady Pioneers had knotted it up at 43-43, and for the next 7:38 they inched forward for the four-point advantage at the end of the quarter, leading now 50-46.

The Lady Rockets would never again regain the lead, but the final stanza saw the two Region 2 teams play toe-to-toe with a determination usually associated with much higher stakes than a mere moral victory or a saving of face. NorthArk only outscored the Tech women 14-12 in the final period, but it was enough to give them the six-point win.

The #6 Lady Pioneers improved to 18-4 on the season, 2-0 in the conference. They only had two players in double-digits, with Grace Coates leading the way with 16 points. Notably, they did not sink a single 3-pointer.

Tech fell to 9-5 overall, 1-1 in the league, and 2nd-place in the Region 2 standings. Three Rockets racked-up double-digits. The nation’s leading 3-point percentage shooter, Brandashia Hargraves, did not connect from outside the arc on this night, but led her squad in scoring, nevertheless, with 17 points. Jakhiya Boston was next, with 15; followed by Haggar Caldwell, with 10.

The 64-58 victory helped to justify the Lady Pioneers’ conference-champion status, and settle them alone at the top of the league standings. For SAU Tech, it was a very tough loss, but the level of play—the determined effort to overcome early adversity, come from behind, take the lead, and stand face-to-face with a consistent contender for not just a conference title, but a national championship as well—sent a clear signal to all future opponents: The Rockets must be reckoned with.

Only 15 days from the final buzzer of this first fierce contest, the rematch is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. The Lady Rockets will host a non-conference rematch with Division-I Arkansas Baptist at Shaddock Fieldhouse, on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tech got the win the first time around, 54-27.

female basketball players

Lady Rockets take the Coahoma Tigers

by Joel Gray

Clarksdale, MS—Coach Andre Williams’ 8-4 Lady Rockets began their final five-game stretch of the 2018-19 season by facing-off for a rematch with the Division-I Lady Tigers of Coahoma Community College on Thursday night (1/24). The Tigers had been beaten once already by SAU Tech’s women— way back on opening night (11/2), in Camden—and had had a tough go ever since, coming into the rematch with a 5-10 record. It was a hard-fought contest on the home-court hardwood of The Pinnacle, but the Rockets rose above the road-trip challenge, taming the Tigers, once more, to the tune of a 68-57 victory.

The Lady Tigers displayed an early determination not to drop another game to the Division-II Tech women, eeking-out an 18-16 lead by the end of the 1st quarter. By halftime, however, SAU Tech’s desire to secure the two-game series sweep had driven them, from behind, to forge ahead of Coahoma by 4-points, 37-33. Then it was toe-to-toe throughout the 3rd quarter, with Tech only able to tally two more points than the Tigers, inching forward for a 49-43 lead. But the Lady Rockets rallied in the 4th quarter, extending their advantage by 5 additional points, resulting in the 11-point win.

Coahoma’s women fell to 5-11 on the season, of which they finished 0-2 in their contests with Tech. In this tough second loss, the Lady Tigers recorded two players in double-digits, with Ariana Thigpen leading the way with 20. Two other Tigers managed multiple 3-pointers: Khiyee Robinson had 4, while Essence Lambert totaled 2 treys.

The Lady Rockets rose to a record of 9-4 with their 3rd consecutive victory and their 8th defeat of a Division-I opponent. A total of three Tech women tallied double-digit scoring. Jakhiya Boston was good for 12, including 2 buckets from beyond the arc. Devena Smith also sank enough for 16 points on the night. But by-and-large the team was bolstered, this night, by the above-and-beyond basketball prowess of one Brandashia Hargraves.

Brandashia entered the arena as the national leader in 3-point-percentage shooting. And her offensive skills certainly contributed considerably to the Lady Rockets’ success, hitting for three more treys and tallying a total of 21 points to lead Tech’s scoring. Nevertheless—despite this ball-to-bucket display—it was Brandashia’s defense that doomed the Lady Tigers to defeat. In an inspiring and powerful performance, she played the boards for 8 defensive rebounds, broke up attempted scoring plays with 4 big blocks, and even managed to sneak in 1 steal to seal the deal.

Coach Williams and his Lady Rockets return home, to Shaddock Fieldhouse, in Camden,AR, next Friday (2/1), for a 5 pm tip-off in what will be their biggest game of the season to date—a Region 2 Conference challenge against the #6 team in the nation, the 16-4 North Arkansas College Lady Pioneers.


Lady Rockets Bounce Back

by Joel Gray

The Lady Rockets of SAU Tech ended their 3-game skid Saturday afternoon in the Health & Physical Education Complex against the Southern University Shreveport Lady Jaguars, bouncing back in a big way by the score of 85-58. The Lady Rockets improved their record to 6-3 on the season, while Shreveport continued winless on the year, falling to 0-9.

This was the second meeting of the two teams, as the Division-I Jaguars had already visited the Rockets, back on Nov.3, for the SAU Tech Tip-Off Classic inside Shaddock Fieldhouse where the D-II Lady Rockets prevailed by 9 points to pick up their second victory in what would grow to be a 5-0 start in this, their first year on the court for the first female NJCAA basketball team for SAU Tech. The return game at Shreveport turned out to be even more satisfying as Coach Andre Williams’ Lady Rockets turned it up to outpace the Jaguars by a margin of 27.

The game remained fairly close for a half, with Tech leading by 9 at the end of the 1st quarter, 26-17, but only by 7 at halftime, 41-34. Then Devina Smith’s 15-point 3rd quarter, combined with Jakhiya Boston’s and Haggar Caldwell’s barrage of 3-pointers put the Rockets up by 17 at the end of the 3rd, 64-47, before stretching the lead for the final tally. SAU Tech had four players in double-digits, with Jakhiya racking up 26 total points on the strength of her five 3-pointers for a very impressive performance. Devina, Haggar (three 3-pointers), and Alex Parris (two 3-pointers) scored 15 each as well.

The Lady Jaguars had three players in double-digits, with Sha’Tera Batton on top with 20 points. She also hit on two 3-point attempts.

This will conclude the 2018 portion of the Lady Rockets’ 2018-19 season, as they do not play again until Jan. 7 when they travel to Wesson, MS for the return game against the Division-I Copiah Lincoln Lady Wolves. The 8-1 Wolfpack took the Lady Rockets to task in the Shaddock back on Nov. 29, going on a 103-77 tear that the Rockets would love to avenge as they start the second half of the season and prepare for their important Region II Conference play which commences in January as well. Only then will the Lady Rockets face, for the first time, teams from their own Division-II classification. Thus far, all of their losses—and, more importantly, their victories—have come in competition with Division-I opponents. The idea is that when Region II play arrives, the Rockets will be ready.

rocket no words

Lady Rockets Face Another Tough Game

by Joel Gray

Goodman, MS—Frank Branch Coliseum welcomed the SAU Tech Rockets, on Saturday, but the results inside the home of the DIV.-I Holmes Community College Bulldogs were unwelcome to the Rockets.

After streaking to an unbelievable 5-0 unbeaten start in this inaugural season of athletics at SAU Tech, a few misfires later, and the Ladies are 5-3, with a 3-game losing streak, after suffering another tough loss to this Holmes squad. The Lady Bulldogs were only 2-5 coming into the match-up, so they, too, were as hungry as the Rockets for a win. But as both teams applied themselves to the same goal of securing success, they went about doing so in almost opposite ways. The Holmes women dominated in the paint, scoring 66 of their points from close range, while Tech attacked from outside, netting 47 points from long range— 21 of those from beyond the 3-point arc.

There were two short runs by the teams: a 10-0 run by the Bulldogs and a 12-0 run by the Lady Rockets. At one point, the Tech women trailed by as many as 16 points but fought back to narrow the margin. Otherwise, the score remained close, and it was anyone’s game. Tech trailed by 6 at the end of the first quarter, and only 4 by the half. Holmes squeaked out to a 7-point lead at the end of the third, and even though the Rockets, again, never quit—once more outscoring their opponent in the final period—they could only close the gap to five, losing by the score of 88-83.

The Lady Bulldogs had five players score in the double-digits, with Janae Collier leading the way with 22. As a team, Holmes recorded 36 rebounds, 14 assists, and 13 turnovers as they improved their record to 3-5 with the win.

The Lady Rockets had four players in double-digits—Jakhiya Boston with 26, Devena Smith with 19, Alex Parris with 12, and Paige Francis with 11. Additionally, Jakhiya was on fire from 3-point range, sinking five treys in total. Tech matched Holmes with 36 rebounds, but only had 9 assists, while committing 23 turnovers.

Although this is the third straight loss for Coach Andre Williams’ Lady Rockets, every single win and loss this Tech team has savored, or suffered, has come against NJCAA Division-I competition, in this, their first-ever NJCAA Division-II basketball season. That’s 5 wins against 3 losses, thus far. D-II divisional play won’t begin for the Rockets until January 2019. Meanwhile, next up, is a rematch with the D-I Southern University-Shreveport Jaguars, on the road once more. The Rockets got the win, at home, back on Nov. 3, by the score of 88-79, and they certainly are capable of a repeat of that performance.