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Itawamba solves Co-Lin in semis

CLINTON – The third time certainly was the charm for the Itawamba Community College Lady Indians as they eliminated the No. 23-ranked Co-Lin Lady Wolves 62-56 Friday night in the semifinals of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament hosted by Mississippi College.

The Lady Indians (19-9) will make their second consecutive trip the NJCAA National Tournament as they defeated the Baton Rouge Lady Bears 58-57 in the Region 23 championship finals. The National Tournament will be played March 13-23 in Salina, Kan.

Baton Rouge defeated the Mississippi Gulf Coast Lady Bulldogs 62-59 to reach the championship game.

The Lady Wolves (24-4) had defeated the Lady Indians twice this season. In the first meeting on Jan. 10 in Wesson, Co-Lin handed Itawamba a 62-48 loss. More recently, the Lady Wolves defeated the Lady Indians in the semifinals of the MACJC State Tournament 61-60 on Feb. 27 on their way to the State Championship.

Itawamba jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on back-to-back three-pointers by Latoya Colins and TyNita Baker. But the Lady Wolves would go an a 16-5 run capped off by a layup by T’Keya Moore to take a 16-11 lead with 10:45 remaining in the first half.

A basket by Jessica Jackson increase the Lady Wolves’ lead to 22-14 at the 7:59 mark.

Itawamba’s Ayanna Lynn would score as the buzzer sounded cut the Lady Wolves lead to 29-28 at the half.

In the second half, the Lady Indians took control of the game and led by as many as eight points. Itawamba only held a three-point lead in the closing minute of the game, but the Lady Wolves were unable to put points on the board. Baker, Lynn, and Wiley went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to put the game away.

The Lady Indians went 13-of-17 from the free throw line in the second half, 17-of-23 (74 percent) in the game. The Lady Wolves went only 1-of-6 from the charity stripe in the second half, 8-of-16 (50 percent) in the game.

Co-Lin led Itawamba in almost every statistical category. The Lady Wolves shot 40 percent from the field (23-of-57) while the Lady Indians shot 35 percent (20-of-58). Co-Lin held a 43-40 advantage on the backboards.

Sophomore guard Tiffany Sims led the Lady Wolves with 13 points, five steals, five rebounds and three assists. Teammate Jessica Wilson also pulled down five rebounds. Chanta Poole added nine points.

Baker, who is third in the nation in free throw shooting, scored a game-high 20 points for the Lady Indians. Teammate Ashley Wiley chipped in 10 points. Lynn led Itawamba on the backboards with 6 rebounds