Just call them party crashers.
Someone forgot to tell the Lady Cards that teams seeded No. 20 aren’t typically extended an invitation to the Final Four. But that’s exactly where they are for an eighth straight year.
The Lady Cards didn’t just walk in uninvited. They kicked in the door with a 77-44 blowout of No. 12-seeded Walters State Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University.
Awaiting the Lady Cards today at 5 p.m. will be undefeated Shelton State, 35-0 and the No. 1 seed. It will mark the third straight year the two have met in the semifinals with the Lady Cards having won the previous two contests, 68-66 last year and 61-56 in 2016.
The TVCC-Shelton State winner advances to the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Gulf Coast (2)-Tallahassee (11) winner. The losers play at 4:30 p.m. in the third-place game.
The Lady Cardinals, who are 13-1 in national semifinal games, are attempting to make the title game for a seventh time in eight years and win a ninth national championship.
Gulf Coast is the two-time defending national champion and attempting to make it three in a row, matching the Lady Cards as the only other team to have done so. The Lady Cards, of course, pulled off the hat trick in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Shelton State had its hands full in disposing of No. 8 New Mexico in quarterfinal action. New Mexico was up 10 early in the third quarter only to fall victim to a Shelton State three-point shooting barrage in what became a 90-79 win for the Lady Bucs.
Talk about three-point shooting. How about the show Lady Card sophomore Michal Miller put on? She turned the game into her own private exhibition, hitting 7-of-10 from beyond the arc en route to a 27-point performance. It was a sight to see.
Add that to smothering defense and, well, you get a 33-point victory. It was as if the Lady Cards had taken a Texas-sized blanket and tossed it on Walters State, especially in the second half. They outscored the Lady Senators 21-4 in the third quarter with all four Walter State points coming on free throws. The Lady Senators didn’t hit their first shot from the floor until 7:37 left in the game.
The Lady Card win halted a 20-game Walters Streak winning streak. Stopping winning streaks has become the norm for the Lady Cards in the tournament. Their ledger now reads 18 (NE Oklahoma), 10 (Jones County) and the 20 for Walters State.
Oh, by the way, Shelton State brings a 36-game winning streak into today’s game. The last Shelton State loss was to the Lady Cards in the semifinals last year. The Lady Bucs then won the third-place game, 66-62 vs. Salt Lake to start the streak.
The Lady Cards are 3-1 all-time vs. Shelton State at the national tournament, having won in 2017, 2016 and 2012 and lost in 2008.
Today’s game will be the Lady Cards’ 89th in 23 national tournament appearances. The are 69-19 and have now won three or more games at the event 18 times.
Gerald Ewing is 12-3 in national tournament games in his fourth year as head coach.
And, if you’re keeping score, with the win over Walters State, which improved them to 30-5, the Lady Cards now have 20 seasons of 30 or more wins to their credit, including nine straight.
Remember, you can watch the game online at www.njcaatv.com. A $4.99 single-game subscription fee is required.
More Lady Card fans are expected to arrive in Lubbock today, where they will be greeted by the warmest day of the week. After starting with a low of 59, we are headed to a sunny afternoon with a high of 91. The high Saturday is forecast to be 83.
Let’s do this, Lady Cards!