SALINA, Kan. -- South Georgia Tech women's basketball coach Brandan Harrell would not make an outright guarantee that second-ranked Gulf Coast (Fla.) would win the national title.
He did, however, come pretty close.
"If they play like they did against us during the first 10 minutes, I don't see anyone beating them," said Harrell, whose Lady Jets lost, 79-53, against the Lady Commodores in Tuesday's first round of the NJCAA tourney. "I'll tell you what, we had to have a few things go right for us, and nothing went right. During the first five or six minutes, I don't know if they missed a shot. I tell people I feel like we got sucker-punched,"
South Georgia Tech plays North Idaho at 11 a.m. in the consolation bracket Thursday, and the Lady Jets' season continues as long as they win. The best they can finish is seventh place.
On Tuesday, Andrea Smith's 20 points led the way for Gulf Coast, while the Lady Jets were led by Monique Willis with 15, followed by Ophelia McMath with 14. Former Americus-Sumter star Deatric Smith, who was the Region XVII Player of the Year, finished with just five points for South Georgia Tech.
"(Smith) was really, really tight," Harrell said. "I bet Dee, alone, missed four wide-open layups. I think she was a little tight and felt more pressure to score as we fell farther behind."
The Lady Commodores scored 23 points off turnovers and out-scored the Lady Jets, 38-26, inside the paint.
"If the first three minutes of the game had gone differently, I'm not saying we would have won, but we could have kept it tight," Harrell said.
For the rest of the tournament, Harrell said he wants his team to finish strong.
"(The loss is) disappointing, but we've still got a chance to play for seventh place, which means we can play three more games as long as we win," Harrell said. "That's what we're going to focus on. I won't be happy if we just play one more game and go home. We're going to try to play four. Hopefully, we can make that happen."
CVCC 9, DARTON 8:
It was the same story, different day for the Cavaliers, who had an offensive outburst that was only negated by a Chattahoochee Valley rally to tie the game at 8-8. Then a solo homer at the bottom of the eighth did Darton in.
"It's the same ol', same ol' where we're hitting the ball really well," said Darton coach Glenn Eames, whose team is 8-16. "We had our top two in the lineup (Johnny Duran, Drew Shields) combine for 6-for-6 at the plate at one point. But we've got to find a way to keep people from scoring runs."
CVCC led, 4-0, on Darton starter Travis Morris before he settled down. Darton then scored eight runs over the course of the next few innings after that, highlighted by a three-run homer by Tagg Lanier in the fourth. After two early walks by reliever Howell White, he was eventually replaced by Michael Castro. And by the time Castro left, CVCC tied the game in the sixth, 8-8.
Against Darton's Kevin Bibler, CVCC took the lead for good.
Duran was 3-for-5, followed by Shields (3-for-4, RBI) and Lanier (2-for-5).
THOMAS 10, ASU 3:
Thomas scored six runs during the fifth and sixth innings, pulling away from the Rams, who left 14 men on base. Eddie Mathis doubled for the Rams and Jarvis Beck tripled. Beck finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, and teammates William Smalls and Corey Reeves had the other RBI.
GSW 7, BREWTON-PARKER 5:
After falling behind, 2-0, the Hurricanes' Kevin Carroll tied the game with a two-run homer to left. Georgia Southwestern then scored five in the third, highlighted by a Zack Stanton grand slam for a 7-2 advantage. Carroll was 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI, and Travis Barrett improved to 2-0 on the mound. Chris Carroll, meanwhile, earned his third save of the year.