The Chipola College Lady Indians (34-1) captured the college’s first ever national title in basketball with a 54-46 win over previously unbeaten the Hutchinson (Kansas) Blue Dragons (36-1) in the championship game of the NJCAA National Basketball Tournament on March 21.
Sueterrica Key led Chipola with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Evelyn Akhator scored 10 points and pulled in 18 rebounds.
The Lady Indians led 24-17 at the half in the defensive struggle. Chipola held Hutchinson scoreless for 7 minutes during the first half.
Chipola pulled ahead by as many as 15 midway through the second half, but the Blue Dragons roared back to get within 6 at the six minute mark. Kendra Martin and Rosemarie Julien both hit a pair of key threes late in the game to give the Lady Indians the edge.
Chipola beat 3 seed Trinity Valley 62-48 on March 20 to advance to the championship. Sueterrica Key led Chipola with 16. Evelyn Akhator and Rosemarie Julien scored 14 points apiece. Akhator also pulled down 13 rebounds.
The Lady Indians advanced to the final four with a 76-44 win over the College of Southern Idaho on March 19. Sueterrica Key led Chipola with 32 points. Evelyn Akhator had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks. CSI had 24 turnovers compared to Chipola’s 7. The Lady Indians were 14 for 16 in free throw shooting.
Head coach Greg Franklin has led Chipola to the national tournament three times in three seasons at Chipola. The Lady Indians finished third in the national tournament in 2014, and in the elite 8 in 2013.
Chipola scored an 86-52 first round win over Coffeyville on March 18. Akhator led Chipola with 19 points and 19 rebounds en route to breaking the NJCAA single season rebound record with 545 total. Key had 17. Rosemarie Julien and Auteaonna Gilmore each scored 13. Chipola shot 45% from the floor. The Lady Indians shot 79% from the line converting 11 of 14 free throws.
Chipola’s national tournament games are archived on the web at http://www.ihigh.com/njcaaregion8/.