SALINA - For the second time in three seasons, the Hutchinson Community College women's basketball team's march to a national championship fell one step short and was halted once again by Trinity Valley.
The Cardinals put Hutchinson in a deep early hole and the No. 3 ranked Lady Dragons never were able to climb out in a 65-46 setback in the championship game of the 2014 NJCAA Women's Division I National Tournament at the Bicentennial Center in Salina.
Over the last three seasons, HCC finished twice as national runner-up (2012 and this season) and finished third last season. HCC's overall record over those three years was 107-4. For the second time in three years, HCC had a 36-game winning streak snapped by Trinity Valley (36-1), which captured its third-straight national championship and third in a row.
Freshman Kalani Purcell and sophomore Jamie Patrick were named to the All-Tournament team for Hutchinson.
Purcell had her fourth double-double of the national tournament and tied a school record with her 18th double-double of the season. Purcell scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds. The freshman forward finished the tournament with 87 points and 49 rebounds.
Patrick, Hutchinson's career and single-season scoring record holder, struggled on Saturday night finishing with six points.
The Lady Dragons (36-1) had a season-low offensive output, shooting just 31.4 percent (16 of 51), including 1 of 10 from 3-point range and 13 of 22 from the foul line. The Lady Dragons were out-rebounded for the first time this season, 36-32 and committed 20 turnovers.
The Cardinals were led by tournament MVP, Adut Bugak, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds. Deborah Meeks hit three early 3-pointers to put HCC in an early deficit and finished with 13 points. Sylvia Smith-Gaston had 10 points. Roddricka Patton dished out 10 assists.
Trinity Valley shot 46.3 percent overall (25 of 54), including 5 of 21 from 3-point range and 10 of 15 from the line. TVCC had 19 turnovers, but 11 steals, six from Patton.
Hutchinson had a season-low 15 points in the first half, hitting just 5 of 24 shots and going 0 of 4 from 3-point range. When Meeks hit her second 3-pointer at the 15:09 mark, HCC trailed 12-4. When Bulgak popped a 3-pointer with 11:12 to go, the HCC deficit grew to 19-5.
HCC trailed 24-9 with 7:02 to play, but went on a 6-0 run, holding Trinity Valley scoreless for 6 full minutes. Meeks' third 3-pointer of the half stymied HCC's building momentum and the Cardinals took a 27-15 halftime lead.
The teams traded baskets early, but Trinity Valley put the game away with 14-4 run early in the second half as a Jazmine Spears transition layup boosted the Trinity Valley lead to 45-25 with 9:32 remaining.
GAME NOTES - HCC is now 13-7 all-time in the NJCAA Tournament. … The HCC sophomores - Jamie Patrick, Jen'Von'Ta Hill, Briana Starks and Kiarra Jones finish with a 71-3 overall record, the second most wins by a sophomore class in HCC history. … Jamie Patrick finishes her career with 1,099 points and 627 points this season. … Jen'Von'Ta Hill finishes second in career assists (322) and second in career steals (171). … Kalani Purcell finished just four rebounds shy of Ariella McGhee's single-season rebound record with 371.