Big second quarter propels No. 1 seed Gulf Coast State past Harford, 88-70
LUBBOCK, Texas – Taylor Emery scored 24 of her game-high 32 points in the first half, and No. 1 seed Gulf Coast State used a stellar second quarter to pull away from 17th-seed Harford Community College for an 88-70 victory in the second round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship on Wednesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
The defending national champions looked every bit the part, using a 34-11 second quarter to open up a huge halftime lead and never look back. Emery was one of three Lady Commodores (31-2) to score in double figures as Gulf Coast shot 42 percent (30 of 71) from the floor for the game.
Jihleya Dunlap added 18 points for the Lady Commodores and Maria Castro chipped in 12.
“It thought our first-half offensive production was really good,” Gulf Coast head coach Roonie Scovel said. “The second quarter, especially. Our first half of offense was pretty special. When it’s your first game in here you have to handle nerves and get used to things and we were just kind of glad for it to be a one-point game at the quarter. We rely so much scoring and shooting and shooting perimeter shots, and I thought in the second quarter we shot the ball really well.”
With the win, Gulf Coast State will face No 8 seed Seward County (32-2) in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Harford ends its season at 29-4.
The Fighting Owls simply had no answer for the Lady Commodores after falling behind by 24 points at the intermission. They came out with renewed aggressiveness in the third quarter but could not slice into the Gulf Coast lead enough to make a difference.
“You have to tip your hat to Gulf Coast. They are who we thought they were,” Harford head coach Mike Seney said. “They’re really good. The game came down to that second quarter. We knew if we got down a little too much we could fight to make it respectable. But when you get down a lot to a team like that it’s hard. We made some shots, I just wish that second quarter we could have made some more shots.”
Daisa Harris and Danielle Durjan scored 26 and 22 points, respectively, for the Fighting Owls, accounting for all but 22 of Harford’s points in the game. Dominique Walker added 10.
Gulf Coast spent the first half with players taking their turn as to who would be the dominant force. In the end, however, it was Emery that had the biggest impact.
Late in the first quarter forward Jhileya Dunlap asserted herself by scoring seven of her nine first-half points in the final three minutes, helping the Lady Commodores stake out a 21-20 lead after eight minutes.
Shaterrika O’Neal and Shayla Bennett also had their moments, scoring six points each in the first half, and Maria Castro added seven. But the first two periods belonged to Emery.
The sophomore from Tampa was pretty much unstoppable, scoring 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including hitting three of six from three-point range. She personally scored the first 10 points of the second quarter as Gulf Coast turned their meager one-point lead into a 31-20 advantage less than three minutes into the second quarter.
She would later add a layup to push the lead to 13, then begin a 12-0 run with a 16-footer that put the Lady Commodores comfortably in front at 51-24 with just over two minutes remaining. She capped her first half by converting a four-point play, helping Gulf Coast to a 55-31 lead at the intermission by outscoring Harford 34-11 in the second period.
Harford, which shot the ball extremely well in their tournament-opening win over San Jacinto-North, continued that pace early on as Daisa Harris and Danielle Durjan picked up where they left off, combining to hit four of 12 from the three-point line.
But the Fighting Owls simply couldn’t keep up with the shooting pace set by Gulf Coast, which hit 50 percent (21 of 42) from the field in the first half. Harford also committed 12 turnovers.
Harris led the Fighting Owls in the first half with 13 points.