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Banged up Lady Commodores get big home win over No. 9 Northwest

By Dustin Kent
PANAMA CITY — Already down two rotation players due to season-ending injuries and with two more limited due to injury, No. 3 Gulf Coast had to dig deep in Saturday’s key Panhandle Conference showdown with No. 9 Northwest Florida State.

Using essentially a six-player rotation for the bulk of the game, the Lady Commodores found a way to escape with an important 59-54 victory to move to 4-2 in the Panhandle Conference.

Ahlana Smith scored 20 points to lead Gulf Coast (17-2) and D’Asia Gregg added 12 points and a couple of key baskets late to help the Lady Commodores survive despite getting just seven minutes from starting point guard Lya Farcy and nine from starting power forward Tatiana Jones.

“We’re so injured right now,” Gulf Coast coach Roonie Scovel said. “We try not to talk about it because then you start to hear ‘If I had so-and-so...’ and I don’t like to do that, so it has to be next woman up.

“Lya, she’s been trying real hard in practice and doing everything she can with medicine and rehab, but then she went out and tweaked it tonight. But I thought, next woman up, Ra’Shara Simmons was kind of the key tonight. She played really well.”

Simmons scored just five points but dished out four assists, grabbed four rebounds, and had zero turnovers in 32 minutes.

Gulf Coast never trailed in the game but had an early 10-point lead erased as Northwest Florida State fought back to tie the game with a 7-0 run to make it 50-50 with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter.

Gregg put the Lady Commodores back on top by rebounding a missed Naomi Mbandu free throw and putting it back to make it 52-50, and later hit a a mid-range jumper to extend the lead to 56-52 with 55 seconds on the clock.


Rayven Peeples answered with a basket inside on the next Northwest possession and the Lady Raiders stole the ensuing inbound and had a chance to tie or take the lead.

But former Gulf Coast guard Reneasha Payton missed a jumper and Slade gathered the rebound and was fouled.

Slade then swished a pair of clutch free throws to make it a two-possession game with 17.9 seconds on the clock.

The Lady Raiders had a chance to get closer after Kynadi Kuykendoll drew a foul with 12.9 seconds to play, but she missed both free throws and Mbandu made 1 of 2 at the other end to salt the game away.

Fapou Sembene and Chanaya Pinto each scored 10 points to lead the Lady Raiders (18-4), who dropped into third place in the Panhandle at 3-3 with the loss.

Gulf Coast secured at least sole possession of second place and could end the weekend tied for first depending on the outcome of Saturday’s Chipola-Tallahassee game – all thanks to the type of effort Scovel said hasn’t been commonplace for her team as of late.

“I was really proud of the way we handled everything,” she said. “We’ve been kind of immature about the emotional aspect of the game when we don’t get our way and don’t get the calls we feel we ought to get.

“I feel like we handled that very maturely tonight. That makes me hopeful that maybe we can repeat that, especially next week (against Chipola). It might be a good idea to repeat it then.”

The Lady Commodores don’t have a mid-week game and will return to action Saturday at home against No. 2 Chipola. Northwest Florida State will be back on the road Wednesday for a game against Tallahassee.

 

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