LEVELLAND — Controlled chaos.
Tied at 76 apiece with four seconds remaining, Ben Perez stole an inbound pass from Western Texas' Miles McDougal. Perez was immediately fouled by Zac Saddler, sending the sophomore from San Diego, California to the free throw line.
Perez converted on both free throws, giving the Westerners one final possession. Following a timeout from South Plains head coach Steve Green, Western's Nigel Allen heaved a prayer with two Texan defenders in his face towards the basket, sending the ball clanking off the back of the rim as South Plains ousted Western Texas 78-76 on Thursday night in front of a ruckus crowd at the Texan Dome.
"I was up on the ball trying to steal the ball and create chaos," Perez said. "We knew they were going to try and get it to one of their shooters, and I was going to fake a trap and we were going to get back into a two-three zone. Fortunately, I realized he didn't know where to go with the ball and I knew he was about to mess up. I just anticipated the pass and helped make a play for our team."
Trailing 74-68 with 2:14 left, South Plains' William Washington converted the front end of a pair of free throws to bring the Texans within five. Washington missed the second, which was corralled by teammate Jamir Coleman who stuck the put back at the rim, drawing a foul and a chance for a three-point play.
Coleman struck the front end of the rim, allowing Raymond Doby to grab the rock and convert on the put back, bringing South Plains within one, 74-73. Following a layup from McDougal which pushed the Westerners' lead to three, Doby battled his way through a pack of defenders and stuck a layup with 1:27 to play, drawing a foul and knocked down the and-one to tie the game at 76.
"I thought we just kept fighting, and fighting, and fighting, and we couldn't seem to get comfortable," Green said. "We kept fighting and it finally turned into a street fight, especially around the glass. We had two guys in Raymond Doby and Jamir Coleman who stepped up for us on back-to-back offensive putbacks, and that made up for some other things and basically did it for us."
In a contest that saw Western Texas (13-5, 2-3) shoot 53 percent from the floor and lead by as much as 11, including eight midway through the second half, South Plains forced 22 turnovers and utilized an 11-4 run with less than three minutes remaining to notch a crucial win in conference play, improving to 5-1 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
"We have to learn to value the possession of the ball," Green said. "We have to get on the same page, because when we come down the floor and they're switching defenses on us, we can't just go do something with other guys out of position. It seems like we spend a lot of time with one guy with the ball and four guys not knowing what's going to happen. I think we blew too many opportunities due to the fact we weren't where we were supposed to be."
After shooting just 37.9 percent from the floor in the first half, South Plains (13-5) responded in the final stint posting a 54.2 percent shooting mark from the field and were 5 of 7 from 3. Texas Tech signee Deshawn Corprew set a pair of career highs as the 6-foot-6 forward from Norfolk, Virginia tallied 27 points over 32 minutes, knocking down 7 of 10 attempts from the floor and was 4-for-5 from the perimeter. Perez finished with 13 points in 25 minutes and Isaiah Maurice netted 12 points and three boards. Doby finished with 11 points and eight rebounds while Coleman chipped in six points and grabbed six boards.
"My teammates were able to help me get in position and find some open shots," Corprew said. "It seemed like everything was falling, and to be able to pick up a win like this in this type of fashion, it's special. We were down the entire game, and the plan was to keep attacking the basket. We were able to do that and make some plays late, and this was definitely a huge win for us."