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Both GC teams face crucial test in Northwest

By The News Herald

Posted Jan 23, 2018 at 5:13 PM

 

The Gulf Coast women’s and men’s basketball teams return home Wednesday for Panhandle Conference action against Northwest Florida State at the Billy Harrison Field House. The women’s game tips off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.

 

The women’s matchup features the two top teams in the league through the first round of conference play, with the Lady Commodores (15-2 overall, 3-1 in conference) coming in ranked No. 4 in the country and No. 1 in the state, and the Lady Raiders (18-1, 3-1) at No. 3 in the country and No. 2 in the state.

 

Northwest Florida State’s only setback this season came against Gulf Coast in a 50-48 loss in Niceville on Jan. 10. The Lady Commodores made four free throws in the final 4.2 seconds to rally for the victory despite shooting 26 percent from the field and 4

of 27 from the 3-point line. Kionna Jeter led GC with 19 points in the win, while Awa Trasi led Northwest with 18 points.

 

The Lady Raiders have had two impressive victories since that defeat, winning 53-51 at Chipola and knocking off No. 6 Tallahassee 64-56. The Lady Commodores have since routed Pensacola State 82-61 and suffered their first league loss 64-60 at Chipola. Gulf Coast struggled to shoot from all levels in the loss, hitting just 35 percent from the field, going 3 of 18 from the 3-point line, and 17 of 32 from the free throw line.

 

Jeter and Shayla Bennett are leading the Lady Commodores in conference play with 21.3 points per game, with the duo accounting for 62 percent of the team’s offensive output in four league contests. Jhileiya Dunlap is also contributing 8.5 points, 10.8

rebounds, 4.8 blocks, and 2.3 steals per conference outing.

 

Trasi is leading the Lady Raiders in league play with 13 points per game on 59.5 percent shooting from the field, while Ashley Jernigan is adding 11 points and four assists, and Trinity Baptiste 10.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per league contest.

 

On the men’s side, Northwest Florida State (21-0, 4-0) comes in ranked No. 1 in the nation and the state and looks to continue its dominant season against a Gulf Coast (15-6, 1-3) team struggling to stay in the hunt for the postseason and will try to avoid falling

three games behind second-place Chipola in the loss column.

 

The Raiders crushed the Commodores in their first meeting 95-53 in Niceville. Andres Feliz led Northwest with 24 points in that victory and Will Robinson was the top scorer for Gulf Coast with 22 points. Northwest has since taken wins of 85-73 over Chipola and 114-101 over Tallahassee. The Raiders have won all four of their Panhandle games by 10 or more points.

 

Gulf Coast bounced back from the loss to Northwest Florida State – which set the Commodores back to 0-2 in league play – with a 59-57 home win over Pensacola State. The Commodores dropped their last game, however, falling to Chipola 81-69 in Marianna. GC is in a three-way tie for last place in the conference with Pensacola State and Tallahassee. Chipola is second at 3-1.

 

Robinson is leading Gulf Coast in conference action with 22 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, followed by Quadree Smith with 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per league contest. The Commodores are shooting just 40 percent from the field and 24.6 percent from the 3-point line in Panhandle games, while opponents are shooting 48 percent overall and 35.6 percent from three.

 

Feliz is averaging 22 points and four assists while shooting 61.5 percent from the field in conference play to lead the Raiders. Chris Duarte is also averaging 15.3 points in Panhandle games, followed by Derek Funderburk (14.3) and Tray Boyd III (13.3). The Raiders are outscoring Panhandle foes by 20 points per game and shooting a scorching 55.4 percent from the field and 44.1

percent from three.

 

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