Golden Rams tested in latest national tourney run
Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s women’s basketball team placed sixth in its 15th trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division III National Tournament in 24 seasons.
The Golden Rams (22-8) went 1-2 at the national tournament hosted by Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey, March 10-12.
Sixth-seeded Anoka-Ramsey opened the tournament March 10 with a 65-54 loss to Mohawk Valley. The Golden Rams led 12-1 to start the game but trailed 33-28 at the half. Anoka-Ramsey, seeded sixth, failed to score in the final four minutes of the third quarter as No. 3 seed Mohawk Valley went on a 10-0 run to lead 53-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
Golden Rams sophomore Daron Mainville had a game-high 29 points with seven rebounds from Kieara Hunter.
Anoka-Ramsey rebounded Friday to win the consolation semifinals against Sullivan County Community College 45-37.
The Golden Rams shot 17.1 percent from the field in the first half, including 1-of-15 3-point shots, while Sullivan County converted at a 22.6 percentage and missed all 10 3-point attempts.
Anoka went on a 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter and never relinquished the lead from that point on. Rashonna Thomas had 18 points to guide the Golden Rams and Lexus Hughes pulled down 11 rebounds. Guard Za’Keea Sa’eed-El had five assists.
Nationals came to an end in Saturday’s consolation championship as Mid-Michigan Community College downed Anoka-Ramsey 64-57. A strong opening half of shooting (42.4 percent) didn’t carry over to the second half for the Golden Rams, despite a 40-26 halftime lead.
Anoka-Ramsey finished the game shooting 30.9 percent and was out rebounded by a 56-38 margin.
Thomas led the Golden Rams with 18 points knocking down four 3-pointers. Wright-Ponder and Sa’eed-El each finished with eight points and Hughes had a team-high 11 rebounds.
Mainville had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds to earn a place on the all-tournament team.
To reach the national tournament, the Golden Rams (9-1, MCAC Southern Division Champions, 21-6 overall) knocked off Rochester Community and Technical College 77-55 in the Region XIII A Championship game played on the Coon Rapids campus on Feb. 28 behind a double-double from Mainville with 21 points and 13 rebounds while Sa’eed-El added eight assists. Anoka-Ramsey opened the game on a 14-4 run to end the first quarter and the defense held Rochester scoreless over the final 5:07 of the opening half to carry a 43-25 into halftime and shot 45.6 percent from the field compared to Rochester’s 29.7 percent. Sa’eed-El added 14 points and nine rebounds and Hughes scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go with 10 rebounds for her own double-double.
Sophomores Sa’eed-El and Mainville were named to the All-MCAC and All-Southern Division First Teams with Sa’eed-El making the five-player Defensive Team. Anoka-Ramsey freshman Rashonna Thomas was named to the All-MCAC and Southern Division Second Teams and Hughes was named to Honorable Mention.
The Golden Rams won the southern division title while holding the opposition to the second-best 60.4 points per game while the offense posted the second-highest average of 74.9 points per game.
Mainville (twice, Week 4 and 7), Thomas, Sa’eed-El and Hughes each earned Southern Division Player of the Week during the 15-week regular season. Mainville was third in the division in points per game (15.8) and Thomas was sixth (14.0). Makayla Paggen was the best three-point shooter at 35.2 percent (50-142) with Sa’eed-El sixth-best at 34.2 percent and Thomas 10th in the rankings at 31.2 percent. Hughes had the top field goal percentage (.542), Mainville was fifth (.506) and Sa’eed-El was ninth (.458). Thomas and Sa’eed-El were third (.768) and fourth (.740) in free throw shooting, respectively. Mainville ranked sixth in free throws (.734) and fifth in rebounds per game (8.0).