Northwest Florida State wins first women's basketball title since 1996

Photo courtesy of Christopher Wallace
Photo courtesy of Christopher Wallace

NICEVILLE, Fla. (March 10, 2020) - Playing in its home arena, Northwest Florida State College delivered a historic win for the home crowd.

With two seconds remaining in overtime, Northwest Florida State's Reneasha Payton made a layup and Gulf Coast State's final heave fell short as the Raiders claimed the 2020 FCSAA/Region VIII Women's Tournament title, 57-55 in overtime. The win gave the Raiders their first women's state championship since 1996. 

Northwest Florida State also clinched an automatic berth to the NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball National Championships in Lubbock, Texas, March 16-21. 

En route to the championship, Northwest Florida State knocked off Eastern Florida State College and the College of Central Florida. 

Payton was one of four Raiders named to the All-Tournament team. She was joined by Fapou Semebene, Chanaya Pinto and tournament MVP Rayven Peeples. 

Gulf Coast State had three players on the all-tournament team: FCSAA Player of the Year Ahlana Smith, Naomi Mbandu and D'Asia Gregg. 

Other members of the all-tournament team were: Miami Dade College's Daliyah Brown and Nazlah Morrow, Santa Fe College's Rosalee Nicholson, Central Florida's Deidre Cheremond and Florida SouthWestern State College's Simone Lett.

Northwest Florida State will be joined at the national tournament by Gulf Coast State and Florida SouthWestern, who received at-large berths into the 24-team field.