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Cloud rains on East Central's parade

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
March 21, 2001
SALINA, Kan. It was said prior to their opening-round matchup in the NJCAA Women's National Basketball Championship Tuesday night that East Central Community College and Cloud County (Kan.) Community College had a lot in common.
After they staged a battle that saw 16 lead changes and six ties, the difference in the two teams turned out to be one point.
Cloud County's Laura Herman scored from close range with 5.6 seconds left to give the Thunderbirds a 74-73 victory.
ECCC was unable to get a shot off as time ran out.
The Lady Warriors fell to 22-6 and now have to beat second-seeded Central Arizona, 29-3, Thursday at 10 a.m. to stick around for a shot at seventh place.
Central Arizona suffered a shocking 58-55 loss to Cincinnati (Ohio) State as the Lady Surge rallied from a 34-25 halftime deficit to claim a 58-55 win over the Vaqueras.
The ECCC-Central Arizona game may be heard over 98.3 FM, WSSI-Carthage.
ECCC's loss to Cloud was primarily due to offensive rebounding and free-throw shooting advantages by the Thunderbirds. Cloud held a 22-16 advantage in offensive boards and was 21-of-24 at the free-throw line compared to ECCC's 8-of-16 showing.
After freshman guard Sophia Reed picked up two fouls in the game's first 42 seconds trying to guard Cloud scoring whiz Miklannet Tennal, the Lady Warriors settled down and took their biggest lead of the night at 13-6 on a 3-pointer from Nicole Cox with 15:17 left in the first half.
Cloud used a 19-3 run to go up 25-16 with nine minutes left in the first half. A 3-pointer from Margo Porter was ECCC's only points in a span of nearly seven-and-a-half minutes.
Yet a 16-5 run put the Lady Warriors up 32-30 on two free throws from Cox with 2:28 to go before halftime.
Then came the first of two key plays that sent the T-Birds into halftime with a 38-32 lead. Cloud had only one second on the shot clock when it inbounded the ball, but Tennal promptly buried an open 3-pointer to put the T-Birds up 33-32 with 1:55 left in the first half.
Then N'Kiesa Richardson got an offensive rebound and stuck it back in as the horn sounded to give Cloud a 38-32 halftime bulge.
The Lady Warriors opened the second half with a 14-7 run to take a 46-45 lead on a basket by Cox with 16:42 remaining.
The game was one of runs throughout the night.
The teams swapped leads until Cloud pulled out to a 69-60 lead with 7:01 to go.
Two baskets from Anna Udicova pulled ECCC to within 71-68 and a 3-pointer from Cox capped an 11-2 ECCC run and knotted the war at 71-71 with 2:25 left.
Porter gave the Lady Warriors a 73-71 lead with 1:33 remaining.
Udicova was called for a foul on what appeared to be a clean block with 1:07 to go and Richardson made a free throw to cut ECCC's lead to one.
After two misses by ECCC from close range, the T-Birds got ball possession following a tie ball, then regained possession following a Tennal miss to set the stage for Herman's game-winning shot.
Cox led ECCC with 23 points and three steals. Porter had 22 points. Udicova scored 15 points and had 12 rebounds, five blocks, and four assists.
ECCC also got seven points, seven rebounds, and four assists from Nikki Lacour and six points, eight rebounds, and four assists from Alberta Norman.
Not a bad showing from a team that looked like the Christians headed to face the lions as Cloud definitely had a homecourt advantage with its 45-mile trip from here.
Tennal led Cloud with 30 points that included an 11-of-12 showing at the free-throw line. Richardson added 15 points and nine rebounds. Paulette Valentine scored 13 points. Herman chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
ECCC shot 45.3 percent from the floor, making 29-of-64 attempts. Cloud shot 35.7 percent, making 25-of-70 field-goal attempts.
In other first-round games, Tyler (Texas) beat Western Nebraska 62-58, Tallahassee (Fla.) spanked Louisburg (N.C.) 72-52, top-seeded Midland (Texas) got past Wallace-Hanceville (Ala.) 72-66, and Jefferson College of Hillsboro, Mo., outscored Utah Valley State College 92-86 in double overtime.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.

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