CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Foul trouble, poor shooting and turnover problems on offense plagued 16th-ranked Walters State in Monday's TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII Tournament semifinals against Roane State. What didn't deter the top-seeded Lady Senators was their defense.
In a rematch of last year's triple-overtime classic championship game, Walters State avoided extra sessions this time around by holding the fourth-seeded Lady Raiders to 32 percent shooting while also controlling the boards in a 54-45 victory inside L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium at Cleveland State Community College.
With the win, WSCC has now won 16 straight games and 164 of its last 165 TCCAA games to improve to 27-4 on the year, and the Lady Senators will play for an eighth straight Region VII championship and 12th in the last 13 years on Tuesday at 2 p.m. against third-seeded Chattanooga State (21-8).
It will be the 24th all-time appearance in the title game for Coach Dave Kragel's program, and WSCC will look to make it 16 region titles with a win and also the 16th all-time berth in the NJCAA National Tournament, which is held in Lubbock, Texas. Chattanooga State defeated No. 2 seed Motlow State (19-12) in the second semifinal on Tuesday, 61-53.
The Lady Senators have won 23 straight games in the region tournament and 37 of their last 38 in postseason play within the league, with that one loss in the last nine Region VII Tournaments coming in the championship game against Chattanooga State in 2011.
Roane State's season concluded with the loss, as the Lady Raiders finished 12-19 on the year. Roane State had advanced to the semifinals by defeating fifth-seeded Jackson State on Saturday, 48-45.
Diamond Forrest and Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu both had four points in the first period as Walters State built an early lead but had to hold off the Lady Raiders and Adalys Brown, who had seven in the frame, to take a 12-11 lead into the second quarter.
The Lady Senators held Roane State to just six points in the second frame on 2 of 15 shooting, as Zacharyia Esmon nearly matched the Lady Raiders in the stanza by posting five points in helping WSCC take a 24-17 halftime lead.
Roane State had six different players score in the third, and the lady Raiders rallied to take a 32-31 lead before a pair of free throws from Alexis Trice allowed the Lady Senators to quickly reclaim the lead. Brianna Dixon had six points in the third, as Walters State built the lead to 39-33 going to the fourth.
The Lady Raiders got back-to-back buckets to cut the margin to 40-39 early in the final frame, but a quick 6-0 run by the Lady Senators helped put some cushion between the two teams. The lead reached 11 late in the game before WSCC settled for the nine-point victory margin.
The Lady Senators shot 35.3 percent (18 of 51) from the field in the win, making just 1 of 11 from deep while knocking down 17 of 22 free throws. WSCC also held a 36-24 edge on the glass, with Trice and Mendjiadeu both grabbing six caroms.
Esmon paced Walters State with 15 points, while Dixon and Forrest both added 10 points in the win. Mendjiadeu added seven points, while Trice had six and Derrinesha Jackson, Jalayah Manning and Jamya Rogers each had two points in the contest.
The Lady Raiders connected on just 32.1 percent (17 of 53) of their shot attempts, including 3 of 14 from long range, while making 8 of 13 at the stripe. Brown led Roane State with 13 points in the game, while Amber Appiah-Kubi added 11 points in the defeat.