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By BOB DAVIDSON
SALINA, Kan. — A strong finish carried Midland College to a 57-49 first-round victory over Volunteer State (Tenn.) in a first-round game Monday of the women’s junior college national tournament.
Midland (27-7), the No. 13 seed, advances to the second round and game against fourth-seeded Gulf Coast State (Fla.) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Volunteer State, the 20th seed, ends its season with a 23-5 record.
Trailing 46-44 with 5:55 left, Midland scored five consecutive points. A 3-pointer by Volunteer State’s Sara Bliss with 2:21 left tied the score at 49, but they were the Pioneers’ last points of the game.
Achiri Ade started Midland’s closing run with a basket with 1:59 left, and the Chaparrals made 4 of 4 free throw attempts the final 22.2 seconds. Volunteer State missed four shots and had a turnover its last five possessions.
“We hit a couple of big shots, and we were able to finally stop them to one shot a couple of possessions in a row,” Midland coach Ron Jones said. “I don’t think we played our best basketball, but at the same time mentally sometimes that first game’s really rough.”
Midland led 31-29 at halftime despite being outrebounded 24-15. The Chaparrals won the second half rebounding battle 24-20.
“(Volunteer State) did a great job on the boards,” Jones said. “They got the ball so deep on us, and we had to rotate on defense and were out of rebounding position.”
Neither team shot well — Midland 38 percent (19 of 50, including 2 of 17 from 3-point range) and Volunteer State 32.8 percent (21 of 64, 3 of 16 beyond the arc).
Meghan Braeuer led Midland with 16 points — 12 the second half, nine the final 6:16. Ade added 12 and 12 rebounds, and Diamalises Rivera 11 points for Midland. Catherine Kruschke grabbed 11 rebounds.
Natasha West had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Volunteer State.