Late run lifts Lady Commodores to 6th straight win
Posted Feb 8, 2017 at 8:53 PM
By Dustin Kent747-5065 | @PCNHDustinKentdkent@pcnh.com
PANAMA CITY — For the second straight game, a Gulf Coast opponent found itself almost deadlocked with the first-place Lady Commodores at halftime. And for the second straight game, a strong finish by the nation's top-ranked team made for a drama-free finish.
The Lady Commodores used a 17-2 fourth-quarter run to pull away from Pensacola State on Wednesday night at the Billy Harrison Field House for an 87-62 victory, their sixth in a row. With the win, Gulf Coast improved to 24-1 overall and 7-1 in the Panhandle Conference. Pensacola State dropped to 17-7 and 2-6.
Taylor Emery led GC with 23 points, followed by Shayla Bennett with 14, Maria Castro and Shaterrika O'Neal with 13 each, and Jhaleiya Dunlap with nine. Xana Dove led Pensacola State with 12 points, and Daija Brown had 10.
A ragged start to their first game in a week led to the Lady Commodores facing a 21-14 deficit after one quarter, but they rallied to grab a three-point halftime lead and outscored the Lady Pirates 28-11 in the fourth to put the game away.
Gulf Coast coach Roonie Scovel said she wasn't surprised at the sloppy beginning given the Lady Commodores' recent history.
"That week that we get off, that bye, last year we struggled with that and this year we struggled with it, too," she said. "We gave up 21 points in that first quarter, and we weren't ready to stop that dribble drive, we didn't rotate over and we took no charges for the game. We've got to fix that. But in the second half we did much better."
The first quarter featured a series of straight-line drives to the basket by the Lady Pirates with little resistance offered by the usually stingy GC defense. Four straight Pensacola State hoops came on attacks of the rim with the dribble, the last a three-point play by Dove to put the Lady
Pirates up 16-9 with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
Gulf Coast fought its way back into it in the second quarter, with a top-of-the-key 3-pointer from Castro and a transition basket by Emery tying the game, and a mid-range jumper by Emery putting the Lady Commodores up 29-26 with 3:13 to half.
It was 40-37 at halftime, but Gulf Coast finally started to get some separation in the third, as a 15-3 run started by a pair of free throws by Raven Fox and capped with a 3-pointer by Bennett made it 59-45. But the Lady Pirates finished the quarter with back-to-back threes from
Brown and Xena Dove to cut the deficit to eight going into the fourth.
A bank shot by Ahyiona Vason and a transition bucket by Nia Johnson trimmed the GC lead to 65-58 with 6:01 to play. Castro helped spark the decisive run for the Lady Commodores with a reverse layup followed by a 3-pointer to make it 70-58.
Emery followed with a pull-up jumper and a driving basket to put Gulf Coast up 16, with Bennett converting a three-point play off of a Lady Pirates turnover, LaSonja Edwards scoring inside and Emery driving to the rim for two more to make it 81-60 with 2:07 remaining.
"I thought in the end that maybe conditioning was a factor," Scovel said. "We just kept pushing it even though we weren't playing very well. We weren't transitioning on offense well or making good decisions, but we kept pushing and pushing. We stayed with our game plan to keep pushing in transition, and I thought in the fourth quarter that was the difference."
Gulf Coast next will play host to Chipola on Saturday, while Pensacola State is home for Tallahassee on Saturday.
PENSACOLA STATE (62)
Vason 3 2-5 8, Armstrong 1 0-0 3, Johnson 2 0-0 5, Luster 4 0-0 8, Brown 2 5-10 10, Jones 3 1-2 8, Jones 3 1-2 8, Yancey 2 0-0 5, Xe. Dove 1 0-0 3, Xa. Dove 5 1-1 12, Lutaya 0 0-2 0. Totals: 23 9-20 62.
Green 1 1-1 3, Fox 1 4-6 6, Purifoy 0 0-0 0, Emery 10 2-2 23, O'Neal 6 0-1 13, Bennett 4 4-5 14, Castro 5 0-0 13, Dunlap 3 3-6 9, Edwards 2 2-4 6, Bell 0 0-0 0. Totals: 32 16-25 87.
Pensacola State 21 16 14 11 — 62
Gulf Coast 14 26 19 28 — 87
3-point field goals: Gulf Coast 7 (Castro 3, Bennett 2, O'Neal, Emery), Pensacola State 7 (Armstrong, Johnson, Brown, Jones, Yancey, Xe. Dove, Xa. Dove. Fouls: Pensacola State 24, Gulf Coast 18. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: Dunlap, Armstrong.