For the second time in three years, the Casper College women’s basketball team is the Region IX champion.
The 15th-ranked T-Birds got two free throws from freshman guard Natalia Otkhmezuri with 3.6 seconds remaining and survived a last-second shot by Western Nebraska Community College for a 66-64 victory Saturday at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” head coach Dwight Gunnare said Sunday. “They played their tails off all weekend and they beat a really good team (Saturday). I was a little concerned when we were down six (54-48), but they kept their composure.”
Limited to just eight healthy players because of injuries, the T-Birds (29-3) battled back to take a 58-54 lead with 4 minutes remaining. The No. 2 Cougars (29-2) tied the game at 64-all on a three-point play before Otkhmezuri drove to the basket and drew a foul late in the shot clock.
Otkhmezuri and sophomore Mya Jones had 14 points apiece to lead the T-Birds and Raquel Ferrer-Bernad added 12. They also got a combined 19 points off the bench from Kammie Ragsdale, Reka Soos, Aspen Cotter and Emily Achter in winning their 15th consecutive game.
The T-Birds now advance to the NJCAA Division I Championships on March 16-21 in Lubbock, Texas. They will find out their opponent and when they play in the selection show on Monday morning.
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN
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