LEVELLAND—Jasauen Beard scored 15 points and the No. 6 Lady Texans placed three other scorers in double figures en route to a 74-61 victory over Western Texas College on Thursday night at the Texan Dome.
South Plains picked up its ninth win in the last 10 games and improved to 26-4 on the year and 11-3 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference. 12s were wild on Thursday night as sophomores Yanina Inkina, Taylor Holley and Brittany Smith each scored 12 points in the trio's final game at the Texan Dome.
"We started off slow but came on strong because we felt our effort wasn't there in the first half," Beard said. "Our sophomores stepped up and everyone held their own in the second half. It feels great to know we're going into the post-season with a win and know what we have coming up in the future. Winning nine of the last 10 really helps our confidence because it lets us know what we can do and know that we have something special."
South Plains opened the contest with a 9-0 run as Inkina, Beard and Holley each hit from the perimeter to get things rolling. Inkina found the bucket on a 10-foot jumper from the left side and extended the lead to 11-2 with under five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Lady Westerners came roaring back with an 11-3 run of their own capped off by an Allison Valdez 3-ball to trim the lead 15-13. Jauslynn Shepard gave the Lady Westerners their first lead of the contest, 26-25 with a trey from the corner at the 4:50 mark of the second quarter.
Smith answered back for the Lady Texans with a runner in traffic to tie the game at 29-29 with 1:50 remaining before the break. Shepard would eventually find the net with a layup as time expired in the first half as the Lady Westerners led 35-32 at the midway point.
"We didn't play our best in the first half, but came out with the win and showed what type of team we are," Holley said. "It was emotional to play with these girls in our last game at home. As long as we stay focused and play together, we're unstoppable. We have multiple leaders on the court and really trust each other when we're out there."
After shooting just 40 percent in the front half, the Lady Texans answered back and went on to shoot 51 percent through the final 20 minutes. Beard gave the Lady Texans their first lead of the second half with consecutive jumpers in traffic to put South Plains back on top 42-39 with 6:43 remaining in the third. Holley would open up the lead to 55-44 with a trey from the right wing at the 3:40 mark of the third quarter.
The Lady Texans remained hot in the final 10 minutes as Beard found the net on with a layup with 3:23 left in regulation, extending the lead to 70-55. Inkina would then find Joneva Huey on a backdoor cut in the paint to cap off 13-point victory in the Lady Texans season finale, sending South Plains into the Region V tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country.
"This one was bittersweet," Smith said. "Pulling out this win was huge for us. We started flat from the beginning but really picked it up in the second half. I think the main thing that helped us was our defense creating offense. It's very big to go into regionals on a winning streak, and we know what to do and how to do it, so we just need to continue to play like we know how."
The Lady Texans will now shift their focus to the Region V tournament at Frenship High School's Tiger Pit on March 8-11. The Lady Texans will tipoff against Ranger College at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8.