WOLFFORTH—Despite a valiant fourth quarter surge which saw the Lady Texans trim a 20-point deficit to just six, South Plains fell to Collin County 77-70 in the semifinal round of the Region V Tournament on Friday at the Tiger Pit.
Sophomore Yanina Inkina scored a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting in 37 minutes of action. Jasauen Beard finished with 15 points and eight boards on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor. Elizabeth Cera scored 10 points and dished out four assists while Brittany Smith finished with six points and recorded a game-high nine assists.
"I think we just got a little too passive and didn't continue to attack like we were supposed to," Smith said. "They were smart, but I think the whole thing was us turning it over and not being aggressive and letting them pressure us from the 3-point line. We were just looking to move the ball because we didn't want it to stick in one place and we didn't want to make it easier for them."
Trailing 37-28 at the half, South Plains used a 6-1 run to begin the third quarter and cut the lead to 38-34 on a Joneva Huey conversion at the rim with 7:58 remaining. The Lady Cougars responded with a 6-0 run of their own to push the lead back to eight. A 3-ball from Beard brought the Lady Texans back within five with 4:22 to play in the third. Collin County would answer back with a 14-4 run to close out the quarter and led 62-45 heading into the fourth.
"I think it was a really good game, but we were kind of flat in the second and third quarter," Inkina said. "We picked it up and tried to find each other with good passes and make some shots. We had a lot of turnovers and they're a good team, they're fast and athletic and stole the ball and scored in the fast break. We're really sad right now, but hopefully we'll get a chance to go to the national championships and show everybody we're a really strong team and can compete for a national title."
Following an Asia Davis' 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter which pushed the Lady Cougars' lead to 65-45, South Plains countered with a 17-3 run capped off by a Cera layup which trimmed the lead to 68-62 with 4:32 remaining. Collin's Ashtyn Beal answered with a 3 from the left corner to push the lead back to nine with four minutes to play.
Cera would then step in front of a bounce pass on the defensive end and take it the length of the floor, converting at the rim and cutting the deficit to 71-64 with 3:30 left. Zhanae Whitney would then hit from 15 feet to put the Lady Cougars back up nine as Collin ran out the final two minutes of regulation and escaped with a seven-point win.
"I think we had a couple of calls go against us, and instead of being the aggressor we kind of went into retreat mode as opposed to playing to win," South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said. "We're just not very effective when we're passive. That was kind of the message throughout the course of the game; I was trying to get us to turn the corner and go downhill versus that matchup zone, and we were just passing around the perimeter."
With three wins over top 25 teams and a record of 27-5 to date, the Lady Texans will look to selection Sunday in hopes of an at-large bid to the NJCAA Women's National Tournament on March 20-25 at the RIP Griffin Center in Lubbock. The 24-team bracket will be decided on Sunday, March 12.