HUTCHINSON, Kan. - The top-ranked South Plains College Texans survived a poor shooting first half and came away with a victory over No. 15 East Mississippi Community College Tuesday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena and will advance to play third-ranked Monroe (N.Y.) College at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Monroe defeated No. 7 Indian Hills 81-69 in their first round matchup.
South Plains made only 12-of-41 (.293) shots in the first half and went to the locker room trailing by seven, 36-29.
"We looked like we were running in mud," Texan head coach Steve Green said of the first half. "We are a team that shoots the ball well. This is not us."
Upon entering the game, Deshaunt Walker quickly nailed a three in front of the East Mississippi bench to give the Texans their first lead of the game. Stanton Kidd put the Texans up 16-11 shortly after.
The lead was short lived, however, as East Mississippi responded with a 13-2 scoring run and would eventually take the largest lead of the game to halftime with South Plains trailing 36-29.
Green did not like the pace of the game.
"I did not feel comfortable sitting there and letting them dictate what was going on," he said. "We like to play fast. We like to shoot quickly.
"We rolled the dice at halftime and said ‘we've got to go get them,' and I think we came out and immediately went ahead."
Devonte Smith followed a couple free throws up with a made field goal. Marshall Henderson took advantage of a steal by Stanton Kidd and then Kidd completed an 8-0 run to start the second half to give the Texans a one point lead.
Moments later South Plains trailed 40-37. This time Kidd, Moreira, Murphy, and Gainey combined to take the Texans on a 10-0 run, gaining momentum and a seven point lead.
Just passed the midway point, East Mississippi tied the game at 51 and then took a three-point lead thanks to a made 3-point attempt with 7:34 remaining on the clock.
After a made goal by Henderson and two made free throws by Murphy that gave the Texans the lead, Kidd took over the game.
Kidd scored nine of his game high 20 points over the next 21/2 minutes, giving the Texans a commanding 67-59 lead after hitting a 3-point goal with less than two-minutes to go in the contest.
East Mississippi would not be able to decrease that advantage to less than six points as South Plains went on to win 71-63.
In addition to Kidd's game high 20 points, South Plains had three other players in double figures including Moreira and Murphy who also finished with double-doubles. Moreira scored 11 points, pulled down 10 boards, and added four blocked shots while Murphy chipped in with 10 points and a game high 12 rebounds. Henderson also added 10 points.
Kidd just missed a double-double of his own with nine rebounds and Smith dished out nine rebounds.
South Plains won the rebounding battle 54-41.
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