WOLFFORTH — The South Plains College men's basketball team raced out to a 15-4 lead in the opening minutes and never looked back, pummeling Ranger College 89-75 Wednesday in the opening round of the 2018 Region V Men's Basketball Tournament at the Tiger Pit.
With the win, South Plains improves to 21-8 on the year and will take on No. 20 McLennan College Friday at 1 p.m. in the semifinal round. McLennan (27-4) won its opening round matchup against Clarendon 89-68 on Wednesday.
"I thought we got off to a great start and played at a really good pace the first four to five minutes," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "We were executing and hit some easy shots and built a bit of a lead. They don't have a lot of size but are scrappy and play hard, and we tried to focus on getting our hands up and making them finish, and for a long time we did ok."
Sophomore big man Isaiah Maurice led South Plains with 20 points and seven boards, bucketing 6 of his 7 attempts from the floor was 7-for-9 from the charity stripe. Jordan Brangers scored 18 points including four 3s to go along with five rebounds and a pair of assists in 40 minutes of action.
Freshman Keith McGee facilitated the Texans' offensive attack, netting 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting and also grabbed seven boards including six on the defensive end. Christopher Orlina bucketed 12 points over 35 minutes for South Plains, totaling seven boards and five assists for the orange and blue.
"We've been game planning for this one and just came out and executed," Maurice said. "When we run our stuff and defend, this is how the game should turn out. "I knew I would be the biggest guy on the floor and tried to use that to my advantage and get good post position and get easy buckets for my team."
Up 45-31 at the intermission, South Plains opened its lead to 48-31 on a 3-ball from McGee with 19:49 left. Ranger's Akiem Daschner capped a 7-2 run from the Rangers with a jumper with 16:49 to play to trim the lead to 12, 50-38. Sophomore William Washington would put the Texans back up 14 with a trey from the right corner with under 15 minutes to go.
Texas Tech signee Deshawn Corprew hit from the perimeter with 8:08 remaining, giving South Plains a 71-57 cushion late in second half. Daschner would bring the Rangers with 10, 71-61, with a pair of free throws with 7:16 left. Maurice answered with a 3 from the top of the key as South Plains pushed its lead to 13, 74-61 with just over six minutes remaining.
Ranger would get within seven on a Keyshaad Dixon triple with 5:36 to go, but the Texans had an answer yet again as Maurice capped a 7-1 run with 2:32 to go to extend the lead to 81-68 as the Texans picked up their fifth win over the last six games.
"I think today was a lot different than a lot of our games this season," Brangers said. "Coach Green preached tempo and simply playing harder than them, and I feel that first five minutes we came out and set the tone. I felt good shooting, and lately, I've been able to get into a rhythm and feel good shooting the basketball. I know if we continue to play like we did today we can get everyone involved which makes it easier on all of us."
South Plains shot 49.1 percent from the field in the contest including 44 percent from behind the arc while forcing the Rangers to shoot 40 percent from the floor and just 4 of 12 from the perimeter. The Texans dominated the glass, outrebounding their counterpart 36-26 and forced 11 turnovers in the contest.