Gulf Coast State (Fla.) clinched its fourth national title Saturday with a 63-47 win over Trinity Valley (Texas) in the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Game at the Rip Griffin Center.
Sophomore forwards Audrey-Ann Caron Goudreau and Kristina King led the way for the Commodores as the pair of 6-foot-3 phenoms each posted double-double performances. Caron Goudreau recorded team highs with 16 points and 17 rebounds, while King finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. On the defensive end of the floor, Caron Goudreau led the team with six blocks to go along with a career-high five rejections tallied by King.
“They have two really good players,” said Trinity Valley head coach Gerald Ewing. “I think we were a little intimidated by the size. Those kids are bigger than I thought they were. We didn’t attack them. I think we attacked with more of fear as compared to just going at them. I have a bunch of freshmen and I think this is their first time dealing with something like that.”
Gulf Coast State freshman guard Amanda Paschal added nine points and nine rebounds to the effort, while freshman forward Maria A Morales Castro registered 10 points and six rebounds. Coming off the bench for the Commodores, freshman guard Ty Purifoy contributed eight points and three assists.
Trinity Valley’s offense was led by 13 points from freshman guard Christalah Lyons who distributed a game-high five assists. Freshman forward Leah Mathis pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds to go along with seven points.
As a team, Gulf Coast State’s smothering defense held the Cardinals to a 28.1 shooting percentage from the field. The Commodores forced 12 turnovers and locked down the paint with 12 blocks.
Nursing a 24-23 lead at the half, Gulf Coast State came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders. The Commodores outscored Trinity Valley 20-13 in the third quarter, gaining a comfortable lead that they would only build on in the final period.
“In the third quarter – once we got a little spread – you could see us relax, play a little better defense, be a little more aggressive and then we made some plays,” said Gulf Coast State head coach Roonie Scovel. “Once we get a little separation – an eight or 10-point lead – then all of a sudden we get a little more aggressive. Our offense carries our defense. A lot of people create offense from defense, but we create defense from offense.”
Caron Goudreau and King were honored as co-MVPs of the tournament for their exceptional play on both ends of the floor. Averaging 18.5 points, 14 rebounds and 3.8 blocks during the championship, Caron Goudreau recorded double-doubles in all four games. King averaged 20.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the week.
“At first I was kind of nervous to play with (King) because we hadn’t played together,” said Caron Goudreau. “I didn’t know what type of player she was but we really adjusted well. We went up together and kept building on each other. We’ve been successful together.”
The victory was extraordinarily special for Scovel who has been at the helm during all four of the Commodores national championship runs. Stepping down from her post at Gulf Coast State following the 2011-12 season, Scovel spent one year as a student advisor at the college and coached a season of middle school basketball in Defuniak Springs, Florida. She returned to the Commodores as head coach in 2014 to care for her mother who began suffering from health issues.
“I had moved to Alabama so when the job came open, I needed be in Panama City,” Scovel said. “In the middle of recruiting last year, she passed away, so this whole season has been for my mother. I’ve been listening to voicemails that I have of my mother all week so there’s some closure to her death today. This game is the closure.”
Top-seeded Gulf Coast State began its march to the championship in Tuesday’s second round, gutting out a hard-fought 71-64 victory over No. 16 seed Georgia Highlands. Following a day of rest, the Commodores dispatched No. 8 seed Walters State (Tenn.) 74-53 in the quarterfinals. With an 80-51 rout of No. 4 seed New Mexico in the semifinals, Gulf Coast State locked up its fifth appearance in the NJCAA title game where it would meet No. 6 seed Trinity Valley.
With the victory in the title game, the Commodores capped off their season at 32-1 – matching the overall record from their 2009-10 championship run. Trinity Valley dropped to 31-4 for the year with the defeat.
All Tournament Team: Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, Kristina King and Amanda Paschal
Coach of the Tournament: Roonie Scovel
Co-MVP Players: Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, Kristina King