LEVELLAND — Kieves Turner scored a game-high 20 points as the South Plains College men's basketball team held off New Mexico Military Institute 78-73 in their conference opener Saturday at the Texan Dome.
The Texans improve to 4-5 on the season and 1-0 in the WJCAC, and will return to the floor on Dec. 27 in Arizona when they take on Snow College in their first outing at the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout on the campus of Mesa Community College.
Leading 41-38 at the midway point, the Broncos extended their lead to six to begin the second half as Jay'Veon Coleman knocked down a 3 to put NMMI up 44-38. South Plains would get within three, 50-47 on a trey from DJ Avery with just over 13 minutes to go.
The Texans would then deadlock the game at 51 apiece thanks to a pair of free throws from Kieves Turner with 10:53 remaining. Jalen Harris gave SPC their first lead of the second half, putting the Texans up 54-51 with a triple with just under 11 minutes to go.
"When you stay in front of your man, it's amazing what kind of success you can get out of it," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "Not only that, if everyone else is in front of their man, you have a chance to get a rebound. When you reach in and take yourself out of the play, now you just hope they miss."
Trading buckets over the next seven minutes, the Broncos' Luis Riascos Varon tied the game at 68 with a pair of free throws with 3:26 left. The Texans would use a 5-0 run over the next 60 seconds to take a 73-68 following a free throw from Jaden Harris.
"I think we get tired," Green said. "We lock into a rotation of five or six guys, and I felt like we were just playing to get to the last five minutes. The problem was, a couple of our guys were on the floor a whole lot. We just got fatigued, and I tried to save my timeouts in case we needed them there at the end."
NMMI would get within two, 75-73 following a steal and a layup from Jordan Nelson with under a minute to play, but free throws from Tytan Newton and Harris on the Texans' next two possessions would be enough in the final seconds.
Turner finished 7 of 17 from the floor and handed out six assists over 36 minutes. Avery poured in 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting, and also snagged nine boards in 33 minutes. Harris tallied 12 points, four boards, and four assists as the Texans shot 45.2 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from distance.