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Kincey, Dye lead GC past Trinity to national final

Dustin Kent

LUBBOCK, Tex. — Whenever Gulf Coast and Trinity Valley meet in the national tournament, it brings together two of the true blue bloods of junior college basketball, with the programs sporting 13 national championships between them.

The rivalry has been rather one-sided in recent years, however, with the No. 2 Lady Commodores adding another to the win column in the series Friday night, knocking off the No. 14 Lady Cardinals 77-67 in the NJCAA semifinals.

With the win, Gulf Coast (26-5) advanced to Saturday’s national championship game against No. 8 seed New Mexico Junior College at 11 a.m. The Lady Commodores can claim their third national championship in the last four seasons and their sixth overall with a win.

Gulf Coast won its last two national titles with wins over Trinity Valley in the championship games in 2016 and 2017. Friday’s semifinal was much more competitive than those meetings – wins of 16 and 24 points for GC – with the teams knotted up 56-56 with 5:39 remaining in the fourth quarter.

A basket by Nadia Marshall put Gulf Coast up for good, and a run of eight straight points by Nakia Kincey helped the Lady Commodores pull away with just under two minutes to play.

Kincey, who came into the game averaging just 3.1 points per contest on the season, finished Friday’s game with 18 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.

With the Lady Commodores up 60-59, Kincey hit a wide open three to put her team up four, and then added a deep 3-pointer on Gulf Coast’s next possession to make it 66-59.

Kincey finished off her personal 8-0 run with a tough floater in traffic off glass to give Gulf Coast a nine-point edge with 1:57 remaining.

Trinity Valley (29-5) cut the deficit to 72-67 on a triple from Arleighshya McElroy with 30 seconds to play, but Gulf Coast beat the Lady Cardinals’ full-court pressure and got a basket from Alexus Dye plus the foul for a three-point play to push the lead back to eight.

Dye finished with 17 points and 19 rebounds, with Astou Gaye adding nine points and seven rebounds. Marshall, Brittany Davis, and Naomi Mbandu all had eight points each.

McElroy was the top scorer for Trinity Valley with 26 points, followed by Curtessia Dean with 16 and Jasmine Smith with 12.

Gulf Coast faced an eight-point deficit in the second quarter after McElroy knocked in three straight 3-pointers to put Trinity Valley up 30-22. The Lady Commodores answered with four straight threes of their own, with three coming from Gaye, to tie the game 34-34 at the halftime break.

The Lady Cardinals again made a run in the third quarter, with a tough basket in transition by McElroy giving them a 47-40 lead. Gulf Coast again stormed right back with seven straight points featuring a basket inside and a tip-in from Dye and a 3-pointer from Davis.

A floater in the lane by Kincey in the waning seconds of the third quarter put Gulf Coast up 51-50.

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