The Cecil College women's basketball team sufffered a nail-biting loss to the #5 Thunderbirds of Mesa Community College in the first round of the NJCAA DII Women's Basketball Championship at the Pioneer Pavilion on the campus of North Arkansas Community College in Harrison, Arkansas. Cecil College entered the national tournament as the #12 seed after winning the NJCAA DII Region XX Championship over Chesapeake College. The Seahawks received the College's first ever tournament birth in school history.
The Seahawks started the match slow and found themselves down 24-13 after the first quarter of play. The Seahawks were plagued by turnovers and offensive rebounds by the Thunderbirds. Cecil College found themselves down by as many as 18 before starting their comeback in the remaining three quarters. The Seahawks and Thunderbirds were tied for points in the second quarter, but the Seahawks outscored Mesa Community College in the last two.
Sophomores Nyjayha Lockwood and Chyna Steele came off the bench for the Seahawks to fuel their comeback, with help from starting guards Kearah Henry and Nicole Guy-Thomas. Henry was able to drain three shots from beyond the arc in the first half to cut the Thunderbirds lead to 11 before the halftime break. After chipping away for much of the third quarter, the Seahawks forced a turnover on the defensive end and converted a 3-pointer from Guy-Thomas to cut the Thunderbirds' lead to 7 with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter.
After forcing stops and missed shots on the defensive end, the Seahawks tied the game at 72 after an offensive rebound and put back from sophomore forward Tr'Shiya Hollis, a made three-pointer from Nicole Guy-Thomas, and a lay up from sophomore forward Chyna Steele off a perfectly-executed inbounds play.
Forced to foul, the Seahawks put Mesa's Anessa Glenn on the free-throw line to shoot two, after which the Seahawks were down two. Cecil College gave the ball to Chyna Steele, who drew the foul on her drive to the basket. Steele was only able to convert one of her two foul shots. A defensive rebound from the Thunderbirds forced another foul by the Seahawks. Mesa's Takara Wade converted both foul shots to put the Thunderbirds up 76-73 as time expired.
The Seahawks went 11-21 from the free throw line and committed 20 turnovers, compared to the Thunderbirds' 20-23 free throw percentage and 12 turnovers in the contest. The Seahawks were lead by Nyjayha Lockwood's 16 points, 8 rebounds, and two steals in twenty-two minutes of play. Kearah Henry added 15 points, inlcuding three made shots from beyond the arc, and 2 assists, followed by 11 points and six rebounds from Chyna Steele. Nicole Guy-Thomas added three cluth three-pointers, out of four shots, and added nine points for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks will play in a contellation game against the #13 seed Union County Community College, who lost to #4 Owens Community College in their first round match up. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m. EST.