Scoring depth, defense lift Cochise College past Wabash Valley, 96-75
LUBBOCK, Texas – Sophia Elenga led four players in double figures with 17 points, and 21st-seed Cochise College pulled off the biggest upset of the first round, crushing No. 12 seed Wabash Valley Community College 96-75 in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament Monday night at the Rip Griffin Center.
Shannon Powell added 16 points while Endia Peterson chipped in 13 for the Apaches (27-3), who advance to face Salt Lake Community College (28-4) in the Round of 16 at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I think it took us a little bit of time in the first quarter to adjust,” Cochise head coach Laura Hughes said. “We’d only played one game in the last three weeks so it took us some time to get into the flow of things. We just battle and we’re deep so we use our depth really well. We go 10 deep and we wore them out toward the end. We come, try to play hard on defense and we play together, and we did a really good job of that.”
Cochise put the game away with a dominant fourth quarter, outscoring Wabash Valley (31-2) 30-17 in the final period. That quarter was capped by one of several Apache runs from throughout the game, this one a 9-0 spurt that turned a tentative 82-71 lead into a 91-71 advantage with 89 seconds to play.
Cochise finished the game shooting 56.5 percent from the field, including over 73 percent in the final period. The Apaches also won the battle on the boards (37-29) and scored more than half of their points (56) in the paint. Cochise’s depth also led to 41 points off the bench.
Ciara Fields, Jordyn Penniman, Sophia Anaya and Mamita Diagne all added 10 points apiece for Cochise.
“Our balance helps us,” Hughes said. “We don’t have somebody who averages 20 points a game but we have a bunch of people who average 10, 12 points a game. So it’s hard to focus on one person. We’re a team and so it’s just hard to focus on that one person and shot that one person down.”
Wabash Valley got 24 points from Shala Dobbins and 14 each from Lauren Carroll and DeAsia Outlaw, but the Lady Warriors defense struggled to get a handle on Cochise after building a 20-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“Credit to them, they played a great team effort tonight and executed their stuff,” Wabash Valley head coach Luke Scheidecker said. “Shots weren’t falling for us tonight and falling for them, and you’re going to have some of those night. It’s tough but I’m proud of the year we had. It’s hard but it’s part of it.”
Wabash Valley came out strong, hitting 42.1 percent from the field in the first quarter, and that continued into the second quarter, finishing by hitting on 14 of 30 shots from the field in the first half.
The Lady Warriors, however, were just 1 for 9 from three-point range in the first half and were outrebounded 20-14, which allowed the Apaches to take control of the game late in the second quarter.
Cochise outscored Wabash 28-17 in the second period and was 5 of 8 from three-point range in the first half. Cochise also got 24 points in the paint to 18 for Wabash and showed its depth with 19 points coming off the bench.
That allowed the Apaches to take a 42-37 lead at the intermission, with Anaya draining a long three-pointer at the buzzer to finish with 10 points in the first half.
Dobbins led Wabash Valley with 13 first-half points.