Ni'Asia McIntosh takes a shot during a home game. McIntosh had 20 points and 14 rebounds Thursday as NMJC beat Clarendon 85-75. NEWS-SUN PHOTO
The No. 2 ranked New Mexico Junior College women's basketball team played one of its toughest games of the season Thursday when the Lady Thunderbirds faced off against Clarendon College. The Lady Thunderbirds used a big second half rally to come out with the 85-75 win.
"Clarendon came out and established its momentum early to start the game and had us down 9-0 right off the bat," NMJC coach Drew Sanders said. "It was a game where we trailed until the fourth quarter."
The 75 points NMJC allowed were the most points it has given up to any opponent all year.
The Lady Thunderbirds started out slow, trailing 9-0. NMJC didn't score its first bucket until 7:29 was left in the first. That first bucket was the start of a 9-0 run over a span of 78 seconds by NMJC to tie the game.
The rest of the first quarter was an offense battle as both teams finished with 20-plus points. When the opening 10 minutes were done, the Lady Thunderbirds trailed 22-20. NMJC fell further behind in the second quarter as Clarendon dropped in 26 to the Lady T-Birds 23.
New Mexico Junior College never led in the first half and went into the break trailing 48-43.
"We played poorly and had 19 turnovers," Sanders said. "We got into some early foul trouble and had four starters with two fouls in the first half and had to sit them."
Things started to turn in NMJC's favor in the second half. While scoring slowed down, it was enough for the Lady T-Birds to outscore Clarendon 13-9. Still, the Lady T-Birds trailed 57-56 heading into the final quarter.
The offense picked back up in the fourth as NMJC exploded for 29 points. The Lady T-Birds scored the first bucket in the fourth with 9:10 left to play, giving NMJC a 58-57 lead. It was NMJC's first lead of the game and one the Lady T-Birds would not give up.
"We kind of settled down toward the end of the third quarter and into the fourth," Sanders said. "Danielle Craft got hot late in the game and hit a bunch of threes late in the second half. That got us some momentum."
Five different Lady T-Birds scored in double figures. Ni'Asia McIntosh had a double-double as she led NMJC with 20 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Alex-es Bryant and Danielle Craft each dropped in 15 points, Craft doing so while coming in off the bench. Thamires Andrade chipped in 11 points and Jurnee President finished with 10.
Clarendon College's Ja'Vonda Daniels led all scorers with 22 points.
With the win, NMJC improves to 20-0 on the season and 4-0 in Western Junior College Athletic Conference action while Clarendon falls to 17-3 and 1-3 in WJCAC play. Next up for the Lady T-Birds in No. 11 rank Frank Phillips College. The game will be played on Monday at Caster Activity Center. Tipoff is set for 5:45 p.m.
"We have a big conference matchup on Monday," Sanders said. "Frank Phillips is also 4-0 in conference and has been in first place in the conference since the get go."