News Defensive Tweak Leads Gc To Conference Crown - Garrett College
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Campus News

February 28th, 2022

Defensive tweak leads GC to conference crown

Laker women switch to 2-3, crush Catamounts in WPCC final

Top-seeded Garrett College planned to rely extensively on its 3-2 zone Saturday against second-seeded Potomac State College of West Virginia University.

That plan went out the window after PSC raced to a 15-7 lead in the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference Division II women's basketball championship game.

GC head coach JT Lewis switched his Lakers to a 2-3 zone and the results were dramatic. Garrett College held the Catamounts to 22 total points the rest of the way in a 64-37 win that yielded the WPCC crown.

"We thought that [the 3-2] was going to be our defense for today," said Lewis, adding the 2-3 effectively addressed the defensive issues vexing GC in the early going. "Our forwards did a good job getting out to the corner, and the guards did a good job helping the post out and then recovering to their position."

With the 2-3 zone solving GC's defensive issues, the Lakers got their offense going by increasing tempo and hitting some outside shots. The result was a 19-0 blitz that put GC ahead to stay.

After Harmoni Swain started the run with an inside layup, Aliyah Tucker and Josias Mickens drained consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game. Mickens then put the Lakers in front, 17-15, with a jumper at the first-quarter buzzer courtesy of a Jersey Wise feed off a Catamount turnover.

The Lakers (21-4) finished the run by scoring the first 9 points of the second quarter to stretch their lead to 26-15. Tucker banked home a jumper and Wise fed Swain for a layup to keep the surge going. Wise then knocked down her own jumper, which hit the back of the rim and bounced high in the air before falling through the net.

Josie Canales capped the run with a 3-pointer exactly 3 minutes into the second quarter to give GC a 26-15 advantage.

Makenna Douthitt (team-high 14 points) almost single-handedly kept the Catamounts in the game, scoring 6 of their 8 second-quarter points and finishing with 10 first-half points as GC took a 34-23 lead into intermission. The Lakers, however, salted away their conference crown by running off an 18-2 scoring streak to start the second half.

"We knew for the second half we had to get it together and come out with a lot of energy," said Canales, who had 11 of her game-high 18 points during the 18-2 run as GC built a 52-25 lead.

Canales (14 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) and Tucker (17 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) both finished with double-doubles.

"Josie did a good job driving – I'd like her to do that even a little bit more," said Lewis of Canales, who worked effectively through traffic in the lane against PSC's man-to-man defense. "With Aliyah, she did a great job of going up strong inside."

"I knew I had to play big and set myself up for good shots," said Tucker.

Mickens finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals while impressively running the Lakers' up-tempo offense. Swain (8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) and Wise (5 rebounds, 3 assists) each scored 6 and Shay Barlow (6 rebounds) added 2 points.

Canales, Mickens and Wise were all named to the WPCC all-tournament team.

Lewis – named WPCC Coach of the Year after the Lakers went undefeated versus conference competition – said his freshman-dominated team's championship "feels great."

"This has been a fun year with a great bunch of girls," said Lewis. "They're high-quality players and a fun bunch to be around. They deserve everything they've achieved."

Tucker concurred.

"It feels great," she said. "I can't wait to go further."

The Lakers get their chance to go further in this week's NJCAA Division II Region XX championship tournament.

Third-seeded Garrett College, 8-3 in Region XX play, hosts sixth-seeded Chesapeake College (13-8 overall, 7-4 Region XX) Tuesday in a 6 p.m. quarterfinal. The Lakers defeated Chesapeake, 68-59, in a regular-season meeting at Chesapeake.

Garrett College is hosting the region's Final Four March 4-5. The Garrett-Chesapeake winner plays the winner of a quarterfinal between second-seeded Howard Community College (15-9, 8-1) and seventh-seeded CCBC-Catonsville (11-9, 5-5)

Top-seeded and undefeated CCBC-Essex (30-0, 10-0) is the prohibitive region favorite. The Knights defeated Howard by 55 points, Garrett by 38, and fourth-seeded Montgomery College by 58 in regular-season encounters.

The Knights, who have a quarterfinal bye, are ranked third in the nation and are one of only two undefeated NJCAA Division II teams in the country. They will play a region semifinal against the winner of the quarterfinal between Montgomery (17-6, 8-3) and fifth-seeded Potomac State (17-8, 7-4).

Garrett is the only Maryland team besides Essex to have broken the 20-win plateau this season.