CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The 16th-ranked Walters State Lady Senators survived a spirited effort from eighth-seeded Volunteer State to win their quarterfinal round game in the TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII Tournament at Cleveland State Saturday afternoon, 58-47.
The Lady Senators led by as much as 14 in the third period before seeing their lead trimmed to five, but WSCC never wavered and pulled out the win to advance inside L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium.
With the win, Walters State has won 15 straight games and 163 of its 164 games against TCCAA competition to improve to 26-4 on the year. It was also the Lady Senators 22nd straight TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII Tournament win, as Coach Dave Kragel's team is now two wins away from an eighth straight tournament title and NJCAA National Tournament bid and also a 16th region tournament title and national tournament appearance, all of which would extend their TCCAA records.
The Lady Senators will face No. 4 seed Roane State (12-18) on Monday in the semifinal round. Tipoff of that game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Cleveland State. The Lady Raiders held of fifth-seeded Jackson State, 48-45, in the second game on Saturday.
The loss brought an end to the season for Coach Otis Key's Lady Pioneers, as they ended the year 10-15 following a play-in victory on Friday over No. 9 seed Dyersburg State.
The Lady Senators opened up a 19-12 lead after one period but couldn't shake the Lady Pioneers until late in the second period. Vol State trailed 29-24 with 2:53 left in the half, but WSCC scored the final eight points of the half to take a 37-24 lead at halftime.
Walters State shot 51.7 percent (15 of 29) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, making 2 of 6 from long range and 5 of 7 from the free throw line. Zacharyia Esmon and Jamya Rogers both had eight points in the opening half, with Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu adding seven and Brianna Dixon tallying six.
Vol State shot just 28.1 percent (9 of 32) from the floor in the half, making 2 of 9 from deep and just 4 of 10 at the stripe. The Lady Pioneers were outrebounded 25-14 in the half. Aliyah Miller paced Vol State with six points in the first two frames.
The Lady Pioneers bounced back early in the third and cut the WSCC lead to 43-35 with 3:47 left in the period, but Alexis Trice, Mendjiadeu and Esmon scored in a 6-0 run to close the frame, giving the Lady Senators a 49-35 lead entering the fourth.
Vol State scored the first nine points of the final frame, cutting the lead to 49-44 with 6:51 left to play, and despite getting the lead whittled to five on three occasions in the fourth, the Lady Pioneers could not get any closer than that. Esmon got a layup to fall with just over a minute left and Dixon followed moments later with a pair of free throws to put the game away.
The Lady Senators ended the game shooting 42.6 percent (23 of 54), while the Lady Pioneers were just 29 percent (18 of 62).
Mendjiadeu recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Esmon had 12 points, Rogers finished with 10 points and nine rebounds and Dixon had nine points in the win.
Kelsey Harriman paced Vol State with a dozen points, while Xavia Williams had 10 in the loss.