LUBBOCK, Texas — Keke Hunter recorded her 20th double-double of the year, netting 19 points and 12 rebounds as No. 10 South Plains pummeled No. 23 Harford College 77-52 in the opening round of the NJCAA Div. I Women's Basketball National Tournament Monday at the Rip Griffin Center.
With the win, South Plains improves to 29-4 and advances to the Women's Sweet 16 where they will match up with No. 7 Seward College Wednesday at noon at the Rip Griffin Center. It will be the Lady Texans second Sweet 16 appearance in the last three years.
"I was extremely proud of our girls, especially the second half, and I thought in the first half we came out with a lot of energy but didn't play with the efficiency and execution that we wanted," South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said. "I thought we were playing with great energy, and maybe just settled into the game a little bit and started rolling in the second half."
Leading 30-26 at the half, the Lady Texans ripped off a 20-4 run with just over six minutes to play in the third sparked by a 3-pointer from freshman Caroline Germond. South Plains would go on to outscore the Owls (31-2) 29-13 in the third quarter as they shot a 50 percent clip in the back half. Averaging just over 92 points per game, Harford was held to a season-low 25 shooting mark in the second half as the Lady Texans forced eight turnovers in the final 20 minutes.
"It's amazing, having a point guard like Caroline who executes and gets us all shots," South Plains freshman guard Romola Dominguez said. "Having her out was rough for us, but now that she's back and seeing her go off like that, it's a blessing in disguise. She's a great player and a great teammate, and having her back really kick starts the whole team."
South Plains continued to have success on the offensive end over the final 10 minutes, utilizing Hunter's inside presence as the Lady Texans outscored the Owls 28-10 in the paint. South Plains won the battle on the glass, outrebounding Harford 48-29 inside and scored 16 points on second-chance opportunities.
"We knew we had to come out and play hard because we knew they were coming for us and wanted to win as much as we did," South Plains sophomore guard Chantel Govan said. "We had to come out with a ton of energy, execute and make shots because they were going to do the exact same thing."
Germond would finish with 19 points and five rebounds for South Plains, chipping in 7 of 13 shots from the field and was 4 of 8 from the perimeter in 31 minutes of action. Freshman Sarah Shematsi poured in 11 points, snagged six boards and dishes out four assists, bucketing 4 of 13 shots from the field and was 3-for-8 from the 3-point line.
Dominguez and Gabbie Green each finished with nine points for the Lady Texans while Govan netted seven points and five boards as South Plains shot 38 percent from the hardwood in the contest and knocked down 14 of 18 attempts from the free throw line.