ABILENE — Keke Hunter poured in 21 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as the South Plains College women's basketball team grinded out a 50-44 win over Ranger College Wednesday in the opening round of the Region V Tournament at Moody Coliseum.
South Plains advances to the semifinal round where they will meet conference foe Odessa College Friday at 1 p.m. The Lady Texans split 1-1 with the Lady Wranglers during conference play. Friday's matchup will be streaming live at spctexans.com and Michael Wiiest of KLVT Radio Levelland will call the courtside action with pregame slated for 12:45 p.m.
"We didn't feel as sharp offensively as we have been, and we give a lot of credit to Ranger and their defensive effort," South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said. "We were way too careless with the basketball, but it's good to get a win, and I would rather play bad and win than play good and lose. Ranger is extremely well coached, and there's no doubt that they were very well prepared."
Despite shooting just 33 percent in the contest, South Plains held Ranger to just 14 points in the second half as the Lady Rangers finished 4 of 34 from the floor in the final 20 minutes including a 1-for-9 clip from the perimeter.
Hunter knocked down 7 of 13 shots in 36 minutes of play, recording her 18th double-double this season. Freshman Sarah Shematsi went off for 14 points and seven rebounds as the 6-2 forward from France was 6 of 16 from the floor over 22 minutes.
"We went in at halftime and picked ourselves up because we knew we weren't playing our type of basketball," Hunter said. "We came out in the second half with more energy, because we definitely played flat in the first half. My teammates did a good job getting the ball inside, and I was trying to give us energy on the floor and do whatever I could to help us win."
Struggling to hit from the outside, South Plains utilized Hunter's ability to take on double teams and score at the rim as the Lady Texans dropped in 22 points inside the paint and scored 11 points on second-chance opportunities. Trailing 36-34 with 2:48 to go in the third, freshman Romola Dominguez provided a spark off the bench for South Plains, connecting on consecutive triples as the Lady Texans would regain a 42-38 lead heading into the final stint.
"Ro gave us a definite lift off the bench, and that's one thing we talk about all the time is having no drop off from our players coming into the game, and she is always able to bring something to our team," Petree said. "She came up with big baskets today and had a great attacking mindset, and she was definitely the difference in the game today and I couldn't be more proud of her."
The Lady Texans would go on to lead by as much as nine in the fourth quarter as they improve to 28-3 on the year and are 11-0 in neutral site games this season. Dominguez finished 3 of 7 from the floor, dropping in eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
Shan'Qaylia Stanton and Kylah Mize each scored 11 points for the Lady Rangers who end the year with a 20-11 record. Averaging 15 points per game entering the contest, Stanton was held to a 4-for-21 clip from the floor. Marshalla Lollie tallied five points and 11 rebounds for Ranger and Angel Reese finished with four points.