Amani Brown scored 22 points and Aminata Zie had a double-double of 10 points and 17 rebounds as the 4th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team used their offensive depth in rolling to their 26th win of the season with the 94-68 win over Northeastern Junior College Monday evening at Cougar Palace.

                The contest was the last regular season game of the season for the Cougars and they wrapped up the regular season with an impressive 26-1 record and going undefeated in the South Sub-region at 10-0 to earn the No. 1 seed for the South in the Region IX tournament that will begin March 3 in Casper, Wyoming.

                The contest was also sophomore recognition night for the 10 academic sophomores.

                Payton Fields, one of the sophomores who will have to decided whether to move on to a four-year school or come back for a third year, said the team played well after the slow start.

                “I think it was a little rough at the beginning, but we pulled together in the second half,” Fields said.

                The Cougars started slow with just 15 first quarter points and only led NJC 15-6 after the first 10 minutes. With the slow start, the Cougars still managed to score 94 points in the win.

                Fields said that there is so many players that can score at any given time.

                “We have had some games like this before and we just have trust in our team and eventually we will get the win,” Fields said.

                The first quarter was not the most offensive start. The two teams were knotted at 6-6 before the Cougars went on a 9-0 run that saw Fields nail a trey and make two free throws and Amani Brown make an old-fashioned 3-point play for the lead. Brown had nine of the teams 15 points in the first quarter.

                The second quarter saw NJC stay with the Cougars as they trailed by nine points on several occasions including 21-12. That was when Ashley Panem hit back-to-back buckets and Ale’Jah Douglas hit her first points of the game with 4:10 to play on a 3-pointer for a 28-12 lead. WNCC went on to lead 36-20 at the half.

                The second half is where the Cougars lit it up offensively, scoring 58 points. At the same time, NJC scored 48 points.

                Fields opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and then Brown scored eight straight points, including back-to-back old-fashioned 3-point plays for a 47-24 lead. WNCC led 53-30 before NJC made a brief run to cut the lead to 53-37. That was when Panem got an offensive putback for a bucket and then Douglas hit back-to-back buckets for a 59-37 lead. WNCC led 64-42 after three.

                The fourth quarter was back and forth as WNCC managed a couple four-point runs, but everything else was a bucket by WNCC and then one by NJC as the Cougars won 94-68.

                WNCC shot just 43 percent from the field and just 23 percent from beyond the arc with seven 3-pointers. NJC shot 31 percent from the field and 27 percent from the 3-point arc with six treys.

                WNCC had five players in double figures. Brown led the way with 22 points along with four rebound, four steals and three assists.

                Aminata Zie had a double-double with 10 points and 17 rebounds followed by 17 points from Douglas. Also reaching double digits was Panem with 13 points and six rebounds and Fields with 11 points and three 3-pointers.

                WNCC won the rebound battle 58-41. After Zie’s 17 rebounds followed by Martrice Brooks with eight boards and Fields with seven.

                Douglas also had three 3-pointers along with two blocked shots.

                Fields said for the sophomores, this was a special win because after the season they will have the tough decision of whether to move on or come back for those that can.

                “Right now is really tough and some people get the normal college experience and they just go to school and just worry about winning,” Fields said. “But we are also worried about winning, being recruited and moving on, and we like our team. I like playing with them and it will be hard to let go of them. But it is fun holding on to the memories and what is going on right now. We are just going to stay focused on regionals and nationals. Right now it is tough for me and I am just going to go with what is best for me. I love it here and I wouldn’t mind coming back, but it is a wait and see.”

 

NJC                        6 14 22 26 – 68

WNCC                   15 21 28 30 – 94

NJC

Filippa Goula 16, Nailea Nicholas 11, Dalys McGuinnis 9, Hannah Chavez 8, Dalayna Tadolini 3, Bianca Bindzus 9, Liana Gkompetzisvili 12.

WNCC

Ale’Jah Douglas 17, Yara Garcia 1, Amani Brown 22, Aminata Zie 10, Breanna Fowler 2, Martrice Brooks 9, Ashley Panem 13, Payton Fields 11, Isabelle Cook 4, Mia Jaye Sarkodee-Adoo 5.