LEVELLAND—The eighth-ranked South Plains College Lady Texans picked up a crucial 60-54 conference home win over Howard College on Thursday night at the Texan Dome to improve to 18-3 on the year and 3-2 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
Yanina Inkina led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting in 21 minutes of action. Sophomore Brittany Smith totaled nine points, five rebounds and four assists for South Plains, while Dabrasia Baty chipped in seven points and dished out five assists over 31 minutes. Jasauen Beard and Elizabeth Cera each scored six points.
"We lost two close games in a row, so this game was really important for us," Inkina said. "We knew Howard was a really good shooting team so we were prepared. We were working hard every practice to get ready for this game so they couldn't shoot a lot of open 3s."
South Plains shot 43 percent from the field and 44 percent from the perimeter in the contest. The Lady Texans would go on to dominate the first 20 minutes, outscoring the Lady Hawks 16-3 in the second quarter before eventually carrying a 31-21 advantage into the break. The Lady Texans went 12-of-28 from the field and 5-of-11 from the 3-point line in the front half.
Inkina opened up the lead to 34-21 at the 9:17 mark of the third quarter on a 3 ball from the left wing. Cera would then extend that lead to 14 with a trey of her own from the top of the key with 8:30 to play in the third. The Lady Texans would go on to carry a 44-33 lead into the final 10 minutes.
Howard would open the final frame with a 7-0 run capped off by a conversion at the rim from DeAuja Thompson to cut the lead 44-40 with just under eight minutes left in regulation. Inkina would fire back with a 3 from the top of they key to push the lead back to 47-40 midway through the fourth quarter.
Howard was able to cut the lead to six late in the final period, but it wouldn't be enough as the Lady Texans held on to pick up a decisive victory to remain in the hunt for a WJCAC title.
"This was a great opportunity for us to have a bounce back win," South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said. "We dropped two in a row to Odessa who's No. 1 in the country and New Mexico who's No. 6 in the country, so it was good to come out and hit some shots and come away with a win. We're a little bit beat up but were able to show some toughness down the stretch. Howard pulled it close last, and we were able to hold on which was really good for us."
The Lady Texans will look to remain in the win column come Monday night when they travel to Clarendon College with tipoff slated for 5:45 p.m. You can watch the game live at spctexans.com using the 'Watch Games' tab at the top of the page.