By SETH STRINGER
OCALA – NWF State's résumé was already national tournament approved entering Wednesday.
That said, a 78-57 victory over Miami Dade in the first round of the Region 8 tournament in Ocala essentially punched the Raiders' ticket to Lubbock.
Not only that, it affirmed what Bart Walker and Co. already knew: They can win the whole thing.
The Region 8 tournament.
And, yes, also the NJCAA national title.
Shaking off a 3-4 finish to the season after beginning the year 19-0, 11th-ranked NWF State (23-4) outscored the Southern Conference champions 41-26 in the second half in the rout.
Jaiden McCoy delivered 18 points and five rebounds and Cece Mayo had 13 points and nine rebounds. Awa Trasi added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists and Georgia Gayle delivered three treys and 10 points.
Leandra Echi, the Raiders' floor general, dished out seven dimes to go along with seven points, four rebounds and two assists.
Defensively, the Raiders didn't give an inch.
The Raiders held a 51-41 rebounding edge, forced 19 turnovers and limited the Sharks (22-9) to 28 percent shooting. The Raiders turned those takeaways into an 18-10 edge on points off turnovers and held a 25-12 edge on bench scoring.
Now Walker's crew one step closer to a Region 8 tournament title, the next obstacle either Eastern Florida State and Santa Fe in Friday's semifinals at 2 p.m.