There’s only one thing wrong with finishing second in the nation: it’s not first.
Northland Community and Technical College women’s basketball players and coaches left Lincroft, N.J., feeling a mixture of disappointment and pride after a runner-up finish in the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association Division III tournament – an eight-team, three-day event that wrapped up Saturday in the Robert J. Collins Arena on the campus of Brookdale Community College.
Top-seeded Roxbury Community College from Massachusetts pulled away down the stretch to beat second-seeded Northland 61-57 in the title game.
The two teams played to a 14-14 first quarter draw. Roxbury took a 32-30 edge into halftime, but Northland was ahead 47-43 at the close of the third quarter.
It was a 47-47 stalemate with 7:49 remaining before the Tigers gained the upper hand.
Roxbury led 53-48 with five minutes to play before scores by Myesha Caldwell and Tori Mekash pulled Northland within 55-54.
But the Pioneers couldn’t maintain the momentum.
It was the first national title for the Tigers, who lost in the 2015 finals. Northland was the national champion in 2014 and runner-up in 2002.
ShaRon Miller put together a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double for the Pioneers, while Tori Mekash and Allyson Dahl had 13-point games.
Tajmahnae Lewis led Roxbury with 18 points. Alyssa Stewart finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds while Ryia Newsome netted 12.
The Tigers had just six players in uniform and two of them had four fouls by game’s end.
In a see-saw contest, Northland led by as many as eight points (5:25 remaining in the first quarter) and Roxbury’s biggest advantage was seven points (29 seconds left in the game). The lead changed hands four times and there were six ties.
Northland was 21-for-66 on 2-pointers (32 percent) and 4-for-14 on 3-pointers (29 percent). Roxbury went 25-for-63 on 2-pointers (40 percent) and 3-for-12 on 3’s (25 percent).
The Pioneers made 11 of 15 free throw attempts; the Tigers went 8-for-17 at the line.
Northland out-rebounded Roxbury 40-32, but also topped the turnover charts 16-15. Roxbury ended the year 23-2. Northland finished 26-3.
The title game loss snapped a 19-game winning streak for the Pioneers, who are 105-11 over the past four seasons.
1 2 3 4 T
Northland 14 16 17 10 57
Roxbury 14 18 11 18 61
Northland – Myesha Caldwell 6, Tori Mekash 13, Cheyenne Woods 3, Allyson Dahl 13, ShaRon Miller 14, Courtney Amirayan 6, Kendra Brasel 2.
Roxbury – Tajmahnae Lewis 18, Ly’Ayshia Stevens 4, Alyssa Stewart 13, Ryia Newsome 12, Breonna Pinkcett 8, Amariah Brown 6.