By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
NEOSHO, Mo. —
Crowder College scored the last six points of the game to post a 75-70 win against Northeast Community College of Norfolk (Neb.) in District K of the NJCAA Division I playoffs on Saturday.
The teams already had qualified for the national tournament scheduled March 18-23 in the Bicentennial Center at Salina, Kan.
Crowder, ranked 14th by the NJCAA, improved to 28-5 and dropped No, 15 Northeast to 28-4.
The postgame festivities included several members of the Crowder family participating in cutting down the net. Sarah Sagely, an injured Lady ’Rider, began the cutting and head coach Tina Robbins ended it. Players later drenched a surprised Robbins with bottles of water.
“We’ve been working hard for six years,” Robbins said. “That was our goal (reaching nationals) six years ago (when Robbins came aboard).”
Crowder, which expects to find out first-round pairings Monday, will be making its first national appearance since Cletus Green’s 2003 edition.
Northeast, which trailed by 10 points at 29-19 in the first half, still trailed 37-31 at halftime. But the Hawks opened the second half with a 9-0 flurry.
Said Crowder veteran Caprese Marshall: “We expected Northeast to bounce back. We’ve had several games like that this season. We’re used to it.”
Robbins said the Hawks pulled a rally in winning at Iowa Western to claim Region 11.
A trey by Lexi Murphy put the Hawks ahead 70-69 with 1:14 remaining in the game in Bob Sneller Gymnasium.
Crowder answered on Veronica Amos’ layup — off a Terai Sadler pass — with 50 seconds left.
The Lady ’Riders then got a defensive stop that led to Camila Lacerda’s 1-and-1 at the foul line at 21.6. Lacerda missed but the rebound caromed out of bounds off a Hawk at 20.7.
Sadler then nailed two free throws in the 1-and-1 at 18.9 to make it 73-70.
Lacerda and Marshall then stripped the ball from a Northeast player and Marshall drove for the clinching layup.
“We didn’t play one of our best games,” Robbins said. “Attribute a lot of that to Northeast. We had our ups and downs.
“But we didn’t panic,” Robbins said. “Our players kept their poise. Our kids kept grinding away and won at the end.”
Said Northeast coach Matt Svehia: “We had some lousy, junior high-like turnovers. Give Crowder credit for being aggressive around the basket. We should have had a body on people.
“It was a good contest. We battled back,” Svehia said. “The teams were different but evenly matched.”
Robbins liked her team’s 33-31 advantage on the boards.
“Absolutely, I’m happy with that,” she said. “We’re undersized in about every game.”
Crowder received 17 points from Sadler and 16 apiece from Marshall and Lacerda. Amos notched nine.
Lacerda snagged six rebounds and adding five apiece were Amos, Sadler, Seleena Neal and Chloe Nichols.
Marshall and Amos had four and three steals, respectively. Lacerda added four assists.
The Hawks’ Murphy had five treys in scoring 19. Ivana Vuletic and Jaylan Spencer tallied 15 and 13.