GREENVILLE, S.C. —Former Surry Homeschool Lady Patriot star Hannah Tompkins could have been content to complete a fine college basketball career when the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) named the senior guard as a first-team All-Region selection. But as it turned out, she wasn’t.
Tompkins, who joined Bob Jones University teammates Sha’ron Brunson and Amanda Bates on the team, was selected based on her performance throughout the season, with the final first team selections being voted on by head coaches in the South Region.
The honor came as the culmination of a week in which Tompkins and the Lady Bruins defied the odds and extended their season — and Tompkins’ career — by storming through the NCCAA Division II South Region Tournament as the third seed. On three successive nights at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, Bob Jones checked off sixth-seeded Piedmont International (88-29), second-seeded Trinity College (78-64) and then top-seeded Pensacola Christian, 79-69, in the championship game on Feb. 25. The win over Pensacola was especially satisfying in that the Lady Eagles had won 10 straight games since their most recent loss, which also came at the hands on the Lady Bruins back on Jan. 20. During PCC’s winning streak, it had handed BJU a 17-point defeat. The Lady Bruins had sustained that loss, and also lost at home to Trinity.
There was no way that Bob Jones was making the NCCAA’s version of March Madness unless it won the tournament, as it came in with a 13-16 record. Although that record was very misleading due to several losses to NCAA Division I and II opponents, it still wasn’t getting the Lady Bruins into the dance. While BJU had no problem proving to Piedmont who the real Lady Bruins were (both teams use the name), beating Trinity would be a tougher task.
Fortunately, Tompkins was up to the challenge. Bob Jones trailed 34-31 at the half, but rolled to the victory with a 47-point second half. She led the Lady Bruins with 18 points, including a 5-10 effort from behind the 3-point arc, and grabbed five rebounds.
In that game, Bob Jones took the lead with 5:26 left in the third quarter on a 3-pointer from Sydney Bedsaul, Tompkins’ former Surry teammate. With the Lady Bruins on top 51-47 after three, Tompkins opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer after 29 seconds of play. With 5:45 left in the game and BJU clinging to a 59-53 lead, she ignited the conclusive rally with another three, then capped a 7-0 run with a layup at the 4:53 mark to make it 66-53. From there, the Lady Bruins played out the string in full control.
In the championship game against Pensacola (led by another former Surry star, Jessica Boyd) Tompkins led everyone with 32 minutes on the floor, scoring 10 points on 3-6 shooting and chipping in five boards. The game was close throughout. Both teams struggled with their shooting, with one exception — BJU was 15-32 from long range, and that proved to be the difference. Bedsaul gave her team a double-digit lead at 51-39 with a three at the 6:40 mark of the third quarter, but the Lady Bruins couldn’t pull away, and after Boyd hit a three late in the period, the teams went to the last 10 minutes with the score 58-51.
Pensacola (18-13) closed the gap to 66-64 with 4:35 remaining. Bob Jones was hanging on at 70-66 when Tompkins nailed a three with 1:48 to play, and she capped off the win by making two free throws with 12 seconds left.
It was the first-ever regional championship in the history of Bob Jones University women’s basketball.
“PCC is such a hard team to beat,” BJU coach Mike LeViere said. “This was another great team win for us. It was an intense game that was hard fought and well played. Our players showed great poise and maturity and now they are region champions!”
Despite the loss, Boyd and the Lady Eagles also earned an invitation to the six-team national championship tournament, which will take place on March 9-11 at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa. Bob Jones (16-16) is the fourth seed and will open on March 9 against fifth-seeded Maranatha Baptist. Pensacola, the sixth seed, will play in the 2 p.m. opener against third-seeded Randall University.