– The Corsair
The Hartsell Arena was a packed house Wednesday, Feb. 3, as the Lady Pirates hosted the No. 1 team in the country, and previously undefeated Gulf Coast Community College.
PJC cranked up the intensity late, to overcome a 15-point second half deficit. Along with smothering defense, PJC made crucial free throws down the stretch to seal the 68-64 win, and hand Gulf Coast their first loss of the season.
“This win proves that our program can compete and win against the best in the nation,” Head Coach, Chanda Rigby said. “Gulf Coast has had a strangle hold on this conference the last twelve years.”
The Lady Pirates were forced to make starting lineup adjustments, as they “fought through injuries and illness,” Rigby said. With sophomore guard, Izzy Chilcott, out for the game, and sophomore starting guard, and team captain, Deana Allen, starting the game on the bench, the Lady Pirates fell down 14-5 early in the first half. Allen gave PJC a spark off the bench, as the Lady Pirates surged back to take their first lead 24-23 with 7:25 left in the first half.
“The team responded, and fought through adversity,” Assistant Coach Leah Drury said.
Unfortunately, Gulf Coast answered back with an 11-0 run, and went into halftime with a 41-35 lead.
“Defensively we have to protect the paint, and on offense we have to do a better job spreading the floor and working the post in the second half,” Rigby said.
Gulf Coast gained early momentum, increasing PJC’s deficit to 15 after another 14-5 run to start the half, and lead the game 55-40 with 12:40 left.
With their back against the wall, PJC cranked up the intensity on the defensive end, resulting in easy offense during a 23-7 run, which gave the Lady Pirates a 63-62 lead with 2:30 left.
“We didn’t really make any adjustments, the will to win was the difference,” Rigby said. “Our girls never quit.”
The Lady Pirates didn’t let up there, clamping down on defense, forcing Gulf Coast into a shot clock violation. Critical free throws down the stretch helped seal the upset for the Lady Pirates. The win moves PJC within one game of Gulf Coast in the conference standings.
“This win gives us confidence, and proves that when we work hard we can beat anybody,” Allen said.