CF Women's Basketball slides past SPC, moves on to semis

CF Women's Basketball slides past SPC, moves on to semis

OCALA- The College of Central Florida women's basketball team came up big when it mattered most.

The Patriots rallied from down 14 points in the first half and used a game-saving block by Thais Oliveira, as time expired in a 62-61 win over St. Petersburg College in the FCSAA/ NJCAA Region VIII Tournament at CF.

Brittany Grant's free throw with 21.6 seconds left broke the tie after she made the second of two free throws.

From there, the Titans got the ball to Zeneka Willix, who drove to the right and missed from in close.

Chanice Whitton came up with the weak side rebounds, but Oliveira blocked her putback and the Patriots earned their first postseason win in six years.

"That was just huge," CF coach Tommy Jones said. "(Thais) made a great block and our kids never quit."

With the win, CF (25-6) advances to play defending champion Chipola (28-1) on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m.

Down nine points at halftime after shooting 26.3 percent in the first half, CF used its defense to get back into the game.

The Patriots scored 27 points off 24 turnovers by the Titans.

"We survived," Jones said. "We've had a lot of games where we fell behind by a ton and had to battle back.

"My kids always played hard no matter what. This is a big win for us. This is maybe even bigger than us winning the conference title.

"We needed this one to help get the program back to where we need it to be."

Quira Demery (16 points, five rebounds), Brianna Mann (12 points, five rebounds) and Oliveira (10 points, eight rebounds, five assists, five blocks) led the way for CF.

The Patriots won despite making 1-of-16 shots from 3-point range.

CF outrebouned SPC 47-41 and held a 16-7 edge in second-chance scoring.

Willix led SPC with 15 points, while Shayla Wilson added 14 points and 10 rebounds. 

"Their size gave us a lot of problems," Jones said. "We kept battling, though. This was big for us to move on and have the chance against Chipola.

"We know we can't have another slow start like we had tonight."

With the loss, SPC (16-13) saw its two-year run of making the state semifinals come to an end. The Patriots won the season series 2-1 with the Titans.