By SETH STRINGER
From up eight to down 14, it was a stunning collapse over eight minutes of play.
The NWF State women entered the second quarter of Wednesday's tilt leading Pensacola State 21-13. Sharing the ball, converting on easy looks and winning the turnover battle (three to nine) will do that.
The Raiders walked into the halftime locker room trailing 47-33. Missing free throws (5 of 16), bricking layups, shooting 3 of 16 from the floor and committing seven turnovers will do that.
It was eight minutes of play the Raiders would like to forget. The same could be said about the last eight games, all losses.
The latest was a 79-70 defeat at The Arena as the Raiders fell deeper into last place at 1-8 in conference play.
Looming large, as has been the case all year, was the lackluster shooting. The Raiders were 15 for 30 from the charity stripe, 3 of 19 from beyond the arc and ended the night shooting below 35 percent from the floor. That canceled out a balanced scoring effort of 17 points from Jade Lewis, 14 from Berniezha Tidwell, 12 from Britney Snowden. 10 from Amber Thompson and nine from Fruit Oliver.
Pensacola State moved to 3-7 in the conference in the win, well behind first-place Gulf Coast State (8-2) and 6-3 Chipola and 6-4 Tallahassee. The latter two are battling for one of the conference's two automatic qualifier spots in the Region 8 tournament.
The Raiders (14-10) are no longer concerned with the postseason. That ship has sailed. Their main focus now is ending a drought that dates back to Jan. 11. That night they defeated the Pirates 71-67, a win that opened up the conference slate on a bright note. The Pirates (18-8) answered with an 83-75 overtime win on Jan. 28 before securing the regular-season series win Wednesday night.
To the Raiders' credit, they didn't fold after falling behind 14.
The comeback began with the Raiders trailing 51-37 in the third quarter. Oliver scored in the paint, Jade Lewis hit a jumper and Amber Thompson had a steal and coast-to-coast layup to close the deficit to eight. As the Pirates were stuck in a run of five straight turnovers, Lewis followed with a basket and Berniezha Tidwell added a layup and free throw to cap the 11-0 run.
The Raiders ended up outscoring the Pirates 22-11 in the frame, good enough to draw the deficit to 58-55.
By that point NWF State coach Tamela McCorvey was slapping palms with players and energy was restored, the message on the Raiders' sideline upbeat.
By the 5:16 mark of the fourth quarter it was all tied up at 61 following baskets from Oliver and Tidwell. Yet, as has been the case all season, the Raiders just couldn't get over the hump.
Autumn Jones answered with a traditional three-point play, Losmie Lutaya scored in the post and the Pirates would never relinquish the lead. Jasmine Lewis followed with a 3 but the Pirates reeled off a 7-0 run as the Raiders fell to 5-5 on Mickey Englett Court.
Ta'Sheanne Armstrong led the Pirates with 20 points, Jones added 16 and Nia Johnson chipped in 13.
The Raiders next travel to Gulf Coast State (ranked third in the nation) Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. tip. Pensacola State hosts Gulf Coast State on Feb. 22.