Lady Tribunes escape Illinois Central, move on to Final Four

Photo courtesy of North Arkansas College
Photo courtesy of North Arkansas College

HARRISON, Arkansas - Jaynelle Robinson put together a dominant performance to lead the MCC women's basketball team to a 74-67 win over Illinois Central in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II national tournament Thursday evening.

Robinson scored 19 of her game-high 27 points in the second half for the Tribunes (31-2), who will face either Owens or Mesa in the Final Four at 9 p.m. Eastern Friday. The 6-foot-3 sophomore center had her way in the paint all evening, including some important moments down the stretch when the Cougars fought back into it.

Monroe led by 12 at the half and built its lead to as many as 17 in the third quarter. The advantage was 58-43 heading to the fourth.

The Cougars started to claw their way back into the game midway through the fourth. Illinois Central hit a trio of 3's, all of which were answered by Robinson layups. A final Cougar 3 followed by a layup made it 72-67 with less than a minute left.

Lanay Rodney gathered the ensuing inbounds pass and found Torrie Cash down the court for an open layup to restore the seven-point lead. The Cougars had a number of shots in the final seconds, but none went down.

Robinson finished 13-for-17 from the floor while also hauling down 12 rebounds. Rodney also hit double figures with 12 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, and four steals.  Shalix Hines added 11 points

The Cougars grabbed their only lead of the game at 2-0 after winning the tip and hitting a jumper. Monroe came back behind a couple quick layups from Rodney, and a 3 from Cash made it 16-10 Monroe after 10 minutes of play.

Hines helped MCC add to the lead in the second quarter by connecting on three long 3's. The lead was 15 after another Rodney hoop, but Illinois Central banked in a long 3 at the buzzer to make it 38-26 at the break.

Monroe shot 51 percent from the floor on the night while holding the Cougars to 40 percent. The Tribune defense picked up 14 steals.