SNYDER, Texas — Will Washington scored a career-high 20 points and Chris Orlina poured in 15 as the South Plains College men's basketball team rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to down Western Texas 71-70 Monday night at Invenergy Coliseum.
"I thought our guys hung in there after making so many careless plays to begin the game," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "We got off to a good start in the first couple minutes of the second half, and we had some guys step up. Will made some good plays, and the zone defense bailed us out."
Trailing 40-30 late in the first half, Washington drained a 3 from the corner as time expired to bring South Plains within seven at the midway point. That shot proved to be crucial in the final seconds of the contest, as Western Texas had one final gasp with six seconds remaining.
Following a timeout from Green as the Texans looked for one final stand, Western's Demarcus Hartfield heaved a 3 from the right corner as time expired, clanking off the side of the rim as South Plains rallied from a double-digit deficit for the second time in as many games to improve to 19-7 on the year and 11-3 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
"Will was aggressive driving the ball to the rim and hit a couple shots as a result of his aggressive play," Green said. "Chris handled the ball in the middle a lot for us tonight, and we finished some baskets because of him. Defensively, if you look at the points allowed you have to be pretty happy with it. We missed a lot of switches and things like that, but all in all, I guess we did alright."
Following a layup from Hartfield to begin the second half, South Plains strung together a 9-0 run and tied the game a 42 all with 17:26 to go on a Raymond Doby' layup. In a game that was tied 10 times and saw 14 lead changes, Washington nailed a pair of free throws with under four minutes left to give South Plains a 67-66 advantage.
Washington would put the Texans up 71-66 after a steal at midcourt which he slammed home at the other end with 2:04 remaining. Western's Zac Saddler would hit a runner with 1:54 left to bring the Westerners within three, 71-68. Following a turnover from Doby, Western's Nigel Allen was fouled on a 3 with 1:02 to go, as he knocked down two of three free throws to bring the Westerners within one, 71-70.
Neither team would find pay dirt over the next 62 seconds as the Texans picked up their fifth win in their last six outings to remain in second in the conference standings. Washington ended the night 7 of 15 from the field and 3 of 5 from 3 coming off the bench. Orlina knocked down 6 of his 10 attempts from the floor to go along with 10 boards and two blocked shots. Doby tallied 11 points and five rebounds over 29 minutes while Ben Perez added seven and Jordan Brangers chipped in five.
Hartfield led the Westerners (13-13, 2-11) with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor. Allen poured in 16 off the bench while James Edwards netted eight points and Saddler finished with seven points and six rebounds. Despite shooting 50.9 percent from the field, Western was just 12 of 23 from the charity stripe and 4 of 12 from the 3-point.
South Plains will return to the hardwood on Feb. 26 in Clarendon at 7:30 p.m., followed by a matchup with conference leader Odessa College on March. 1 at the Texan Dome to close out the regular season.