LEVELLAND — The second-ranked South Plains College men's basketball team placed four scorers in double figures and knocked down 11 3s en route to a 77-50 dismantling of New Mexico Junior College on Monday at the Texan Dome.
With the win, South Plains improves to 16-1 on the year and 5-0 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference and will return to action on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. when they take on Western Texas College in Snyder. Thursday's contest will be streaming live at spctexans.com and Michael Wiiest of KLVT Radio Levelland will call the courtside action with pregame slated for 7:15 p.m.
"I thought we played in spurts and it was a back and forth game early on," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "We went on a run before the half and did some good things and scored quick, and we got the ball to our guys inside and they scored instead of messing around with the ball. We get these three-second calls because we're lazy and we're not quick inside and just stand there, and we don't make a play in time. We didn't get that stuff in the first half, and if we play like that, you have to be pretty happy with it."
Sophomore sharpshooter Jonah Antonio led all scorers with 21 points and four boards, dropping in 6 of 14 attempts from the field including six 3s in 31 minutes of action. Gaige Prim recorded 18 points, four rebounds and three assists, bucketing 7 of 8 attempts from the floor and was 4-for-6 from the charity stripe.
South Plains' Trey Wade finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assist in 29 minutes of action while Chris Orlina chipped in 10 and Christian Wilson tallied six coming off the bench for the Texans.
The Texans raced out to a 46-25 lead at the midway point after shooting 45.2 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes and knocked down six 3s in the front half. Antonio and Prim combined for 21 points in the first half as the Texans forced the Thunderbirds (13-5, 2-2) to shoot just 36 percent from the floor and 2 of 7 from the perimeter before the break.
"My teammates found me in good spots and I always feel good when I'm shooting the ball," Antonio said. "That's what I like to do and that's my specialty, and I think we're turning the corner right now and getting better as a team. Last year I made 90 3s at the Div. I level, but I wasn't necessarily taking good shots. As I keep playing and learning, I'm figuring out what shots to take and which ones not to take, and every day is a process to keep getting better."
South Plains continued to pour it on in the second half as Antonio netted 13 points and four 3s in the final 20 minutes. The Texans found success on the defensive end early and often, forcing 28 turnovers in the contest resulting in 29 points on the offensive end.
"I saw Jonah's stats today, and he's now shooting a clip that we thought he would shoot," Green said. "He's making 40 percent of his 3s, and he shot good shots tonight. Jonah always plays hard, and he's a cerebral player and it bothers him when he makes mental mistakes, and he's getting better and better. If he can keep this pace, I think by the end of the year he can really be something special, and he has been for us."
The Texans recorded 24 points inside the paint and won the battle on the glass outrebounding New Mexico Junior College 31-26 inside as they would go on to lead by as much as 33 down the stretch.
Malik Mooving led the Thunderbirds with 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench while Naija Hunter tallied 12 points over 20 minutes and Gideon George recorded 10 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes of action.