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Gulf Coast returns home to face Pensacola State

By The News Herald

Posted Feb 16, 2018 at 4:49 PM

 

The Gulf Coast women’s and men’s basketball teams return home Saturday night to take on Pensacola State in Panhandle Conference action. The women’s game tips off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 7:30 p.m.

 

The Lady Commodores (21-2 overall, 9-1 in the Panhandle Conference) come in ranked No. 2 in the nation and No. 1 in the state. They can clinch an outright Panhandle Conference championship with a victory over Pensacola State (17-8, 1-8) after having secured at least a share of the title and the top seed from the league in the state tournament with Wednesday’s 63-43 road win over No. 3 Northwest Florida State.

 

That was the sixth straight win for the GC women and their third in a row without starting shooting guard and second-leading scorer Kionna Jeter. Those three victories have come over Chipola, Tallahassee, and Northwest by an average margin of 24 points per game. The Lady Commodores’ previous two wins over Pensacola State this season have come by margins of 21 and 19 points.

The Lady Pirates have lost six games in a row since notching its only league win 80-70 over Chipola on Jan. 18. Nia Johnson is leading Pensacola State in conference play with 15.1 points per game, followed by Ta’Sheanne Armstrong (11.7) and Mylashia Yancey (10.8). Shayla Bennett is leading the Lady Commodores with 22.6 points, 2.5 assists, and 3.1 steals per league outing. Jhileiya Dunlap is putting in 11.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals per game in conference play.

 

Gulf Coast has been able to overcome the absence of Jeter thanks to the surge in production from 6-foot-2 freshman center Astou Gaye and sophomore guard Janesha Green. Gaye is averaging 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and three assists on 53.2 percent shooting from the field and 56.7 percent from the 3-point line in her last five games.

 

In her last three outings, Green is averaging 18 points on a remarkable 64.5 percent from the field and has made 10 of 14 threes. She’s also averaging 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals in that span.

 

On the men’s side, the Commodores (15-12, 1-9) look to snap a seven-game losing streak while the Pirates go for their fifth win in a row as they continue their improbable climb into state tournament contention after a 1-4 league start. Pensacola State dropped its first three Panhandle games, including a 59-57 defeat at the hands of Gulf Coast. Since a 79-46 loss to Northwest Florida State on Jan. 27 in Niceville, the Pirates have beaten Gulf Coast, Tallahassee, and Northwest Florida State at home and Chipola on the road.

The 87-70 victory over Northwest a week ago was the first and only defeat the Raiders have suffered this season. Willesley Butler and Gerald Williams have been the most consistent forces during the Pirates’ win streak, with Butler averaging 16.5 and 7.8 rebounds over the last four games while shooting 66.7 percent from the field. Williams is averaging 16.3 points on 58.5 percent shooting during that span, and has made 9 of 9 from the 3-point line as well.

 

The Pirates finish their regular season with a home game against Chipola on Feb. 21 and a matchup with TCC in Tallahassee on Feb. 24. The Indians are home for Northwest Florida State tonight and host Gulf Coast in their regular season finale Feb. 24.

Gulf Coast last played Wednesday in Niceville and suffered an 81-62 loss to Northwest Florida State. Myles McGregor led the Commodores with 21 points. It was the first conference game this season in which Will Robinson didn’t lead Gulf Coast in scoring. Robinson scored 14 points and leads the Commodores with 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per league game. Quadree Smith is also putting up 11 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest in conference play.

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