LEVELLAND — The top-ranked South Plains College men's basketball team battled back from a nine-point second half deficit to take down Otero College 74-62 Wednesday night at the Texan Dome.
The Texans improve to 5-0 on the year and are slated to open conference play on Monday, Feb. 8 against Howard College at the Texan Dome. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen live at spctexans.com. Fans are welcome to attend and admission is free.
"We struggled offensively and settled too much," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "We settled too much throughout the game and shot 3s instead of trying to drive in and make plays. But, we found a way to win and I'm proud of them. Otero is a good team."
Trailing 39-30 with just over 17 minutes to play, the Texans ripped off a 6-0 run capped by a Rivaldo Soares' free throw to get the Texans within three, 39-36 with 16:20 to go. Trading buckets over the next five minutes, The Texans would get within a single point on a layup from Delph Panopio to bring the score to 44-43 with 10:15 left.
The Texans would take their first lead of the second half when sophomore big man Jevonnie Scott stripped Otero's Amiri Young, taking the rock the length of the court for a two-handed dunk to put South Plains up 49-48 with just over seven minutes to play.
"Jevonnie got loose," Green said. "He sat over there with us the first half after he had a couple of fouls and took himself out of the game. He makes plays you can't draw up. He goes down and gets a steal and a dunk and he makes basketball plays you can't make up. It's hard to guard those types of play defensively."
The Rattlers (3-1) would answer back as Rodney Mason knocked down a jumper from seven feet to put Otero back on top 54-53 with 4:47 remaining. The Texans would respond to retake the lead as Scott shook the backboard one more time to put South Plains up 55-54 with a one-handed slam.
Myron Gardner would extend the Texans' lead to six, 65-59 with a 3 ball from the right wing with 2:05 to play. The Rattlers would get back within five, 67-62 on a triple from Ryan Stowers with 1:27 left, but it wouldn't be enough as the Texans sealed the contest with a 7-0 run in the final minute to remain unbeaten.
"The defense had to step up," Green said. "If we wouldn't have been able to stop them we would have got blown out. We had 74 points and were 4 of 26 from the 3-point line, and they were good shots too. We were 24 for 32 from the free throw line and that was the difference in the game. Otero came in here ready to play."
Gardner led all scorers as the reigning National Player of the Week recorded his third double-double of the year, netting 19 points and 12 rebounds over 37 minutes for South Plains. Scott poured in 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting to go along with three boards, three assists, and two steals. Sophomore Benjamin Bayela chipped in 12 points and snagged 10 rebounds over 38 minutes for the Texans while Soares and Dalph Panopio each finished with 11 points.