by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College is two wins away from its second NJCAA DII women’s national championship in four years.
Spurred on by a 23-7 second quarter, the No. 3 Blue Devils (30-4) defeated Pima (Arizona) 82-68 Wednesday to advance to the tournament semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday against Cape Fear Community College in the tournament held at Harrison, Arkansas.
Located in Wilmington, North Carolina, Cape Fear (27-4) set a tournament record in a 116-105 win over North Iowa Area Wednesday.
For KCKCC, guards Camryn Swanson and Brodi Byrd each had 15 points as they combined for eight of KCKCC’s 10 3-point field goals.
Kisi Young and Nija Collier added double-doubles, Young with 11 points and 12 rebounds; Collier with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Caitlyn Stewart directed KCKCC’s fast-breaking offense with eight assists, seven points and four rebounds.
Tied 13-13 after one quarter, the Blue Devils limited Pima to just three field goals in 14 attempts, outscoring the Aztecs 23-7 to lead 36-20 at halftime.
KCKCC opened the second half with a 14-6 burst for its biggest lead at 50-24. Fired by a 32-point performance by Jaculynn Nakai, the closest the Aztecs could get was 10 points in the closing minutes.
“I wasn’t unhappy we held them to 13 points the first quarter but seven points in the second quarter was fantastic,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “You don’t get a lot of time to put in a game plan but I thought the girls did a great job of staying focused and executing the things we wanted to do. I did think we got a little tired at the end. We pushed the ball real hard the first three quarters and we wore down a little.”
KCKCC dominated the rebounding 44-28 including 16 off the offensive boards. The Blue Devils were 28 of 68 from the field for 41.2 percent and 10 of 38 from 3-point (.263).
Pima, meanwhile, was limited to 38.1 percent from the field (24-63) and 5 of 20 from 3-point. Each team had 18 turnovers.
“We got out to I think a 13-5 lead and then stopped being aggressive,” McKinstry said. “I challenged them at the quarter that it was up to them; that they had to play the way they had all season and they did. Camryn Swanson gave us a lift with 3-pointers in the second and third quarters (5 of 8) but all in all it was a good team effort,”
Nine Blue Devils played and all nine scored. Lillie Moore added seven points, Lexy Watts six, Lenaejha Evans five and Caroline Hoppock four.