(Lagrange, GA) — West Georgia Tech is going to the Elite Eight.
The no. 10-ranked West Georgia Tech women’s basketball team punched its ticket to the NJCAA D-III Women’s Basketball Elite 8 with a 87-63 victory over the Montgomery College Raptors in the District G Championship Game on the LaGrange College campus in LaGrange Saturday afternoon.
The WGTC women become the first team in school history to advance to an NJCAA championship, as they move on to the NJCAA D-III Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament in Rochester, Minn. March 13-15.
“We beat a very good basketball team today,” WGTC head coach Kenny Edwards said. “They are big and physical and the are very, very well-coached. I’m so proud of the girls for what they have accomplished, they bought in early in the season and play so hard for forty minutes. Things didn’t always go our way in the game but they kept playing hard and that is the identity of our team.”
The Golden Knights will take an 18-8 record to the Elite Eight. The Raptors close the season at 19-11.
Kadriana Howard led all scorers with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting. She was also 1-of-2 from three-point range and was perfect (4-for-4) from the free-throw line. Jasmine N. Williams scored 19 points for West Georgia Tech. Kelsey Walthall scored 15 Keonna Harris poured in 14 to round out double-figure scores for the Golden Knights.
Nicole Cunningham led the Raptors with 17 points.
Montgomery College controlled much of the first half as West Georgia Tech struggled to get anything going offensively.
MC led 16-10 at the halfway point of the first half and led 26-21 with 3:50 on the clock. At that point, West Georgia Tech’s full-court pressure started to get to Montgomery College.
West Georgia Tech closed the half on a on a 14-4 run to take a 35-30 lead into halftime.
“Our pressure made them tired late in the half. We just kept going and going and eventually that will wear a team down that is big and physical like they are. We just had to keep the pedal down and eventually it worked in our favor,” Edwards said.
West Georgia Tech had stretched the lead to 10 at the 15:00-mark of the second half, 46-36. The Raptors got to within five on a couple of occasions, but the Knights used a 20-7 run to take command of the ballgame and lead 78-59 with 3:22 to play.
West Georgia Tech forced 25 turnovers and held the Raptors to just 27-percent shooting (23-of-86). Montgomery College connected on just 1-of-14 three-point attempts.
West Georgia Tech shot 47.3 percent from the field (35-of-74) and was 4-of-11 from three-point range.
West Georgia Tech is one of the hottest teams in the country, with a 10-1 record over its last eleven games.
“We still have so much to play for, obviously,” Edwards said. “We’ll have a good, hard week of practice and we’ll get in the right mindset. Right now we are going to enjoy this victory, enjoy this feeling. But I want them to be hungry for more, and we’ll stress that the journey isn’t over for us. It’s a good place to be as a team and as a program.”
Seeding for the National Championship Tournament will be announced on Monday. All eight teams are guaranteed three games in the three-day event. The winner’s bracket is single-elimination. West Georgia Tech will need to win its opening-round game on March 13 to make the national semifinals the next day. A win there, and the Golden Knights will play for the national championship. A loss in either the opening-round or the semifinals would knock WGTC out of national championship contention.