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Third time’s a charm

Lady Jacks win conference title.

The Lady Jacks basketball team played the UC San Diego Tritons for the third time this season on Saturday. Humboldt State lost the first two games. This time was for the conference title and it was the charm.

“This was the moment that was most important to us,” tournament MVP Tyra Turner said. “This was the championship game and we knew they got us twice at our home and their home.”

Jacks sophomore guard Tyla Turner (12) rises above Tritons forward Shandiin Armao (40) for the bucket. The Jacks beat UCSD 76-75 in the conference championship on March 3 and advance to the NCAA D-2 tourney beginning March 9. Photo courtesy of CPP.

The Tritons got off to a scorching start from behind the arc with four early three-pointers and led 18-13 with four minutes left in the quarter. The Jacks responded in a big way by going on a 14-0 run to close out the quarter, making it 27-18. They moved effortlessly on offense and continually found open opportunities from beyond the arc.

The Tritons finished the first half on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to just four after being down by as much as 12. It was much of the same in the second half as San Diego went on a 19-7 run to start the half and took an eight-point advantage.

The ball movement stopped for the Jacks and the stagnancy killed their offensive flow. To make matters worse, the Jacks could not grab any rebounds due to the Tritons overwhelming size advantage, and were out-rebounded by 17 for the game. The Tritons had 21 offensive boards to the Jacks’ 23 defensive rebounds.

“Our team stayed resilient the entire time,” head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson said. “We knew San Diego would keep punching and fighting. Our girls kept their heads up and continued to fight until the very last second.”

Just when it looked like the Jacks were going to be sent home quietly, down by six with a minute left, sophomore Tyla Turner had a vintage Reggie-Miller-versus-the-New-York-Knicks moment. After nailing a clutch three from the baseline to cut the lead to three, she then stole the ball on the inbounds play and, while falling out of bounds, found her sister Tyra for the easy layup to bring the Jacks within one.

After a miss by the Tritons with 10 seconds left on the clock and down by two, Tyra drove to the bucket, drawing Triton’s defenders, then dished it to an open Jovanah Arrington for a game-winning three from NBA range with half a second left – all net. Jacks win 76-75.

The Lumberjacks celebrate their 76-75 last second win over UCSD in the CCAA title game on March 3 in Pomona, Ca. The Jacks move on to play No. 1 seed Azusa Pacific in the NCAA D-2 tournament beginning March 9. Photo courtesy of CPP.

“Tyra did a good job of getting in the paint and drawing defenders,” Arrington said. “I just made sure to slide over to be in her vision. I knew time was running out and I had to get a shot up. I didn’t know how to react, because I thought the time was going out, but we still had a second.”

The Jacks are now conference champions and move on to the NCAA tournament on March 9.

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