Williams sinks 32 points; leads Co-Lin to victory

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2007

SALINA, Kan. – Co-Lin playmaker Nikki Williams continued toelevate her game Tuesday night in the opening round of the NJCAANational Women’s Basketball Tournament. Williams poured in acareer-high 32 points, directing the Lady Wolves to a 78-64 triumphover the Jefferson, Mo., Lady Vikings in the BicentennialCenter.

The victory advances Co-Lin (29-3) to Thursday’s quarterfinalswhere the Wolves tackle No. 1 seed and top-ranked SoutheasternIllinois at 6 p.m. Jefferson (30-4), after seeing its 21-gamewinning streak come to a halt, regroups and plays Blackhawk East,Ill. Thursday at noon.

In Tuesday’s other opening round games, Odessa, Texas defeatedCasper, Wy. 56-52, Chipola, Fla. clipped Tyler, Texas 66-63; SaltLake, Utah, whipped Shelton State, Ala., 74-47; No. 1-rankedSoutheastern Illinois smashed Blackhawk 65-43 and Seward County,Kan., beat Walters State, Tenn. 56-45.

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Two opening-round games will be played early today as CentralArizona faces Georgia Perimeter at noon and defending nationalchampion Monroe, N.Y. plays Northeast Oklahoma A&M at 2p.m.

In the consolation round today, Casper plays Tyler at 4 p.m. Inthe championship bracket, Chipola meets Odessa at 6 and Salt Lakeplays Seward County at 8.

“I had to put some threes in,” said Williams, a 5-6 sophomorefrom White Castle, La. She had 8 treys in the game, making 8 of 14from beyond the arc. She sacked 4 straight in the second half,sparking a Co-Lin surge that put the Wolfpack on top by 12 points,66-54, with 6:36 left to play.

“Our team did a good job on defense,” said Williams. “Everybodystepped up, even the bench. Kristin (Ellis) and Alisha (Mason) dida good job. Jefferson was No. 1 in the nation in making three-pointshots.”

Encountering Co-Lin’s in-your-face defense, the Vikings made 8of 28 treys. Kandy Beemer, their outstanding guard who leads thenation in 3-point shooting, went 0-for-6.

Most importantly, Co-Lin controlled the backboards. The Wolvesoutrebounded Jefferson 42-30, led by Williams with 8 boards.Dominique Whitfield grabbed 6 rebounds. Hanna Porter and WhitneyScott each had 8 assists.

Co-Lin head coach Gwyn Young said he was pleased to see his teamwin their opening round game. “I’m happy. It feels real good. Weshot the ball well and defended well. We rebounded well, especiallyin the second half.

“Nikki stepped it up and shot the threes well.”

Jefferson, coached by Kevin Emerick, down 34-27 at halftime,made a strong comeback. Sparked by guard ChyTearra Kintchen, theVikings caught Co-Lin at 54-54 on a trey by Kintchen with 10:15left to play. Kintchen drew her fourth personal foul 18 secondslater and went to the bench.

Williams found her zone and sacked 4 straight treys, pushingCo-Lin’s lead to 66-54 with 6:37 showing.

Trahan hit a pair of big baskets down the stretch and Williamsnetted 4 straight free throws off desperate fouls by the Vikings.Trahan finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds.

“Co-Lin is a great basketball team,” said Coach Emerick. “Theyapplied really good pressure on the perimeter.”

Emerick said Kinchen’s foul trouble was decisive. “OurAll-American candidate came out with four fouls. That changed thegame. Give Co-Lin and Coach Young credit for doing a greatjob.”

Asked about Beemer’s 6 points, nearly 10 below her average,Emerick said, “Kandy didn’t have a good night. That happens sometimes.”

Beemer, with her blond ponytail flying, was hotly pursued byCo-Lin defenders, usually Williams. “Williams is as good as anybodywe’ve seen,” said Beemer. “She doesn’t have a weakness and sheplays hard. She’s going to be a Division One player for somebodynext year.”

In the first half, the Lady Wolves played a sticky, man-to-mandefense. Beemer, Jefferson’s sharpshooting guard, was 0-5 beforehitting a baseline jumper. The Vikings relied on guard Robyn Stoneto keep them in the game. Stone scored 12 first-half points,including a pair of treys from NBA range. Stone finished with 20points and Kintchen had 22.

Co-Lin forged a 10-point lead at 32-22 when Williams cashed in alayup off a steal with 1:51 left to play. Williams had 11first-half points, sacking 3 treys.

Jefferson committed 8 first-half turnovers and appearedfrustrated by Co-Lin’s quick defense.

The Wolves overcame an early 5-0 deficit and took an 8-pointlead when Porter and Williams combined for 3 straight treys.

Co-Lin freshman post Kristin Ellis came off the bench to bag 6points and 5 rebounds in the first half.

For the game, Jefferson shot 38 percent from the field, comparedto Co-Lin’s 47 percent.