By Benny Rogers/TVCC Sports Information
How sweet it is!
Shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday, the 2013 NJCAA champion Lady Cardinals pulled intot he parking lot in front of Cardinal Gym. They were greeted by over a 100 cheering fans. Wearing broad smiles, they departed the bus with the championship trophy hoisted high above their heads. The hugging and photo taking began.
That pretty much summed up and put a wrap on a week in which the Lady Cardinals won their seventh national title and second straight.
For the record, the Lady Cardinals scored an 83-71 win against Central Arizona in the NJCAA title game Saturday night at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, KS. It was the third straight year they had appeared in the final game of the tournament and the third time they had faced Central Arizona for the title.
In addition to keeping the Lady Cardinals atop the world of NJCAA women’s basketball, the win gave them an official 36-1 record for the season. On the court (not counting the forfeit to Weatherford in December for a lack of healthy eligible players), they were 36-0 for a second consecutive year.
Against Central Arizona, the Lady Cardinals built a 46-33 halftime lead. Shlonte’ Allen led four players in double figures with 22 points. Krystle Henderson and Shannon Smith had 14 each and Adut Bulgak 10. Savannah Carter tossed in nine.
Victoria Wells finished with seven points and led the Lady Cardinals with seven rebounds. She also had one block and one steal.
Roddricka Patton led the defensive effort, which forced 18 Central Arizona turnovers. Patton had a game-high five steals.
Central Arizona, which has four national titles (second to the Lady Cardinals’ seven) and has lost in the title game four times, closed the year 32-2 (both losses to the Lady Cardinals).
Smith, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She was the top Lady Cardinal scorer in three of their four games and averaged 22.0 points per game. She shot 52.8 percent from the floor.
Allen and Henderson were both named to the all-tournament team.
The title game appearance was the 10th for the Lady Cardinals, who are 10-0 in national semifinal games. They are now 7-3 in title games, having won the title in ’94, ’96, ’97, ’99, ’04, ’12 and ’13.
With their 4-0 record in the 24-team, single-elimination tournament, the Lady Cardinals are now 53-16 in national tournament games.
The Lady Cardinals have won 72 of their last 73 games (72 straight on the court). They have also won 106 of their last 110.
In leading the Lady Cardinals to national title No. 7, Elena Lovato ran her career coaching record to 77-7. She is 45-3 at TVCC.
The 4-0 record at the national tournament also moved the college’s overall record to 989-225. Since the 1993-94 season (the first national title season), the Lady Cardinals are 612-55.
Lovato is now the fourth Lady Cardinal head coach to win a national title, joining Kurt Budke, Michael Landers and Kenya Landers.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the title game, or you want to watch it again, here is the link for a replay: http://www.ihigh.com/njcaatv/broadcast_282876.html?silverlight=1
Plans for a college/community celebration of the Lady Cardinals’ national title will be finalized later this week. Watch for an announcement and then make plans to attend #CELEBRATING7.
The Lady Cardinals would like to thank all the fans making the trip to Salina for the tournament. They are also thankful of all the fans watching online back and and proudly wearing red. Your support and positive vibes were definitely appreciated and helped bring #CHASING7 to a successful conclusion.
I leave you with this final thought: 7-time NJCAA champion Lady Cardinals.