LEVELLAND — Benjamin Bayela scored a season-high 20 points as No. 1 South Plains pounded Howard College 84-51 in their conference opener Monday night at the Texan Dome.
The Texans improved to 6-0 on the year and will be on the road Thursday in Snyder to take on Western Texas College at 7:30 p.m. The game will stream live at spctexans.com.
"I thought we played hard defensively and made it difficult for them to get open looks," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "They caused us some trouble early in the first half and they are extremely quick, but overall we had a good effort tonight."
South Plains jumped out to a commanding 36-21 lead at the midway point as Bayela netted 10 points and was 4 of 5 from the floor in the front half. The Texans shot a 42.9 percent clip in the first 20 minutes while forcing Howard into seven turnovers as the Hawks shot just 26 percent to open the contest.
The Texans would continue to have success on the offensive end, shooting 48 percent in the final 20 minutes and knocked down four 3s in the final stint. Rivaldo Soares and Dalph Panopio combined for 18 points in the second half, each netting 11 in the contest while Bayela finished 7 of 10 from the field and added six rebounds to his stat line.
"Ben hit a couple of 3s and I think some of our other guys kind of relaxed when he started to hit some shots for us," Green said. "We have to continue to be aggressive out there and other teams are going to try and get after us, so we have to be able to blow past people and make plays."
South Plains scored 30 points inside the paint as sophomore big man Jevonnie Scott poured in 11 points and snagged 12 rebounds over 22 minutes. Philmon Gebrewhit chipped in nine points, knocking down a pair of 3s in the second half. Myron Gardner added six points off the bench while Yuot Gai and Mareng Gatkuoth each finished with five points.
"When you have a force down low it opens up everything else," Greens said. "We're big and strong, and we need to start having more of an impact inside and need to stop waiting until the second half to focus on that."
Noah Mason led the Hawks (3-1) with 15 points and seven rebounds over 20 minutes while Rodney Smith had nine points 4 of 12 shooting. Lamar Everd added seven points coming off the bench while Jacoby Bishop and Blazie Sagna each chipped in five points.