News Undefeated Essex Tops Lakers In Region Finals - Garrett College
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Campus News

March 7, 2022

Undefeated Essex tops Lakers in region finals

Knights overcome slow start as Lyric Swann scores 27 points

For most of the opening quarter, the cold-shooting Knights looked mortal. Then, CCBC-Essex seemed to flip a switch and turned back into the 3-point snipers and defensive juggernaut that's produced an undefeated season.

Top-seeded Essex (32-0) buried 7 3-pointers – 5 by Lyric Swann – during a 29-point second quarter as the Knights turned a 1-point game into a 47-27 halftime lead in Saturday's NJCAA Division II Region 20 women's basketball title game. The Knights finished with 15 3-pointers on the way to a 99-59 win over third-seeded host Garrett College (23-5).

"They can all shoot it," GC head coach JT Lewis said of the Knights. "They're going to shoot their 3s. We were hoping they'd just miss a few."

Essex missed more than just a few in the first quarter, not scoring until over halfway through the period. Garrett, playing effectively in its 1-3-1 zone, used the Knights' cold start to build a 15-10 lead. Five different Lakers scored their first 15 points as GC looked for its second consecutive upset of the regional tournament.

Then the Knights started raining 3-pointers down on their hosts.

Essex finished the first quarter on an 8-2 run that started with a Jaelyn Swann 3-pointer and ended with a trey by Kelly Foster. The Knights then opened the second quarter by draining a trio of 3-pointers, 2 of them by Lyric Swann, to open up a 27-17 lead.

Josias Mickens temporarily slowed down the Knights, knocking back a pair of 3-pointers in a 52-second span to pull GC within 29-23. Essex, however, broke the game open with an 11-0 run – capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Lyric Swann, who finished with a game-high 27 points – to build a 44-25 cushion.

"We started out strong," said Lakers guard Jersey Wise, who finished with a team-high 25 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. "I think we stuck well with them in the first half. We wore down in the second half against their press. We started to rush more and we can't do that."

Essex opened the third quarter with a 13-5 run, expanding the lead to 60-32 and effectively punching its ticket to the Division II national championships. Defensively, the Knights forced 29 turnovers, helping them hold GC to 42 points over the final 3 quarters.

Tournament Most Valuable Player Patricia Anumgba (6 assists, 5 rebounds, 9 steals) scored 19 for the Knights and teammate Kelly Foster added 15 off the bench. Vanessa Woodfolk (2 points) pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Mickens (11 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals) and Harmoni Swain (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) both joined Wise in double figures for the Lakers. Josie Canales, whose playing time was limited by foul trouble, added 5 points and 7 rebounds. Aliyah Tucker (10 rebounds) and Shay Barlow (7 rebounds) each added 4 points.

The title-game loss couldn't overshadow the Lakers' impressive season, with included a Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference tournament title.

"I think we definitely improved drastically during the season," said Wise. "We started out iffy, but as the second semester came along we improved so much. We became better offensive players as a team. We started to recognize how each other played and to know where everyone was on the court."

"I'm proud of our girls," said Lewis of a 6-player team that won 11 of its last 13 games. "They played hard, they practiced hard, and they were a lot of fun to be around."

Notes: Mickens and Canales were named to the all-Region 20 tournament team. They joined Anumgba and Lyric Swann from Essex, Montgomery College's Tiyanna James, and Howard Community College's Kori People on the squad.