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TBirds Win Regional Championships

TBirds Win Regional Championships photo 3/9/2015 2:35:29 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

BROWNWOOD, Texas — The New Mexico Junior College women's basketball program has done it again.

For the third time in four years, the fifth-ranked Lady Thunderbirds have taken home the Region V Tournament championship and earned a spot in the NJCAA National Tournament – this time beating Western Texas College 65-52 Saturday at Brownwood Coliseum.

NMJC now owns regional titles in 2012, 2014 and 2015, has won four straight Western Junior College Athletic Conference titles and is 105-19 over that four-year span.

But NMJC coach Drew Sanders isn't ready to call it a dynasty.

"I don't really like the word dynasty more than we've just become a good program," Sanders said. "That is a tribute to our players, to the administration and the people in the community that allow us to do this."

The Lady T-Birds (28-3) begin the NJCAA National Tournament on March 16 in Salina, Kan.

In Saturday's contest it was the post combo of 6-foot-1 Angelica de Paulo and 6-foot-2 Antoina Robinson that paced NMJC in the second half to victory as the duo scored 23 of the Lady T-Birds' 30 second-half points – helping NMJC outscore Western Texas (17-14) by 10 in the half.

de Paulo, the WJCAC MVP, finished with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists while Robinson had 12 points and four blocks.

NMJC held a 35-32 lead at the half before Western Texas freshman and Lovington graduate Jocelyn Jeffrey scored to open the second half to cut the Lady T-Bird lead to one.

That's when a de Paulo bucket ignited an 11-0 run for NMJC capped by a Robinson jumper with 13:58 left to make it 46-34 Lady T-Birds.

Western Texas cut the lead twice to six points – the last time with 5:45 left in the game.

However, de Paulo from the elbow hit a cutting Robinson for a bucket to build the lead back to eight and the Lady T-Birds cruised from there.

Along with de Paulo and Robinson, Kelsey Criner had nine points while Viktoriia Kotilevskaia had seven and Nycolle Smith had six.

See the story from the Hobbs News Sun here.

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[Photo courtesy of Clayton Jones/Hobbs News Sun]

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