By SAM GRUBENHOFF
NICEVILLE — Alas, all good things must come to an end.
The Northwest Florida State women's basketball team had not lost since getting bounced from the NJCAA tournament this past March. The Raiders were undefeated, winners of 19 straight and ranked No. 1 in the country for most of the year.
Then Gulf Coast State came to The Arena on Saturday night and all that washed away in a 63-58 loss to the Commodores.
"I thought both teams played extremely hard," Raiders coach Bart Walker said. "(Gulf Coast) made some big shots coming down the stretch, some really clutch shots. My hat's off to 'em. They made big plays."
The seventh-ranked Commodores (16-3 overall, 4-2 Panhandle Conference) were a changed team after the half, outscoring NWF State 20-13 in the third quarter and 18-11 in the fourth on 54.2 percent shooting compared to just 25.7 percent in the first half.
Brittany Davis, a 5-foot-9 freshman led the charge with a game-high 19 points, seven of them coming at the charity stripe, while Astou Gaye, a 6-2 sophomore, chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds. Fort Walton Beach alum P-Nut Payton had nine points and four rebounds.
NWF State's loss comes after the Raiders (19-1, 5-1) opened Panhandle play with a five-game win streak where they outscored their conference foes 340-301 and included a 75-67 victory against the Commodores on the road in Panama City.
Walker said Gulf Coast's strategy didn't change any Saturday night.
"They didn't do anything different," Walker said. They just made shots. We gave up 16 offensive rebounds and that leads to fouls and free-throws. They're a good team; they didn't do anything different. I thought we were prepared. We just missed some shots and they made some."
NWF State actually finished with a better shooting percentage (43.9 percent) than the Commodores (37.3 percent), but the difference on the offensive glass and at the free-throw line was significant.
Gulf Coast State had 16 offensive rebounds to the Raiders' seven, and the Commodores converted on 12-of-20 free-throws to NWF State's 5-of-9 mark.
"It shows us that we need to do a little bit better job of doing the little things," Walker said. "They don't give out any trophies tonight, so we just gotta go back and get ready to play."
The Raiders are back in action against Chipola at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday on the road in Marianna.