LEVELLAND — The South Plains College men's basketball team fell to No. 7 Odessa College 83-79 in their final regular season game on Thursday night at the Texan Dome.
South Plains moves to 20-8 on the year and 12-4 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference and ends the regular season as the conference runner-up in the WJCAC. The Texans will now shift their focus to the NJCAA Region V Tournament at Frenship High School in Lubbock March 7-10. The Texans will meet Ranger College in their opening round contest at 3 p.m. on March 7 at the Tiger Pit.
"I thought they played much more aggressive than us in the first half," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "It seemed like every time they got the ball they scored or shot it missed it and got it back. They got to the rim, they drove us, we just had no answer for them in the first half. I think they started settling and the zone got us back in the game, but we had the ball several times with a four-point deficit and played like a group of guys who've never played together."
Trailing 77-67 following a 3 from Jonathan Maxwell, South Plains strung together a 9-1 run capped by a layup from Deshawn Corpew with 4:59 left to bring the Texans within two, 78-76. Following a jumper from Jermaine Haley to push Odessa's lead to 80-76, William Washington hit a pair of free throws to bring the Texans back within two with 2:32 left.
After Keandre Cook hit one of two from the free throw line to put Odessa up three, South Plains' Ben Perez hit the back end of a pair of free throws to bring the Texans within two with 15 ticks left. The Texans would come up short in the end as Odessa's JJ Simpson hit two free throws to extend the Wrangler's lead to four with four seconds remaining.
Odessa's LJ Figueroa led all scorers with 22 points over 29 minutes, knocking down 8 of 18 attempts from the floor. Haley netted 18 points to go along with three boards and three assists as Odessa (26-3, 15-1) shot 45 percent in the contest including a 55 percent mark in the front half. Maxwell chipped in 10 points and grabbed four boards for the Wranglers while Braxton Shawn tallied nine points and Josh Boyd had eight.
South Plains shot 42 percent from the floor in the contest including a 50 percent clip in the front half but failed to find a rhythm from the perimeter, knocking down just 6 of 23 attempts from behind the arc. Perez led the Texans on the offensive end, netting 18 point and six boards on 6 of 9 shooting from the field and was 3-for-4 from the 3-point line.
Washington finished with 15 points and two assists in 22 minutes of action, shooting 4 of 8 from the floor and was 6 of 9 from the charity stripe. Jordan Brangers finished with 12 points, all coming in the first half, while Christopher Orlina netted 11 and Keith McGee and Isaiah Maurice each had six.