LUBBOCK, Texas — In a Sweet 16 rematch from the 2017 NJCAA Div. I Women's Basketball National Tournament in which the Lady Texans fell to Seward 87-69, No. 10 South Plains made sure of a far different outcome on Wednesday as they throttled the seventh-seeded Lady Saints 87-61 at the Rip Griffin Center.
South Plains improves to 30-4 on the season and avenged their early season loss when they fell to Seward 75-70 in Kansas on Nov. 9. The Lady Texans advance to the Elite 8 where they will face No. 2 Gulf Coast at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
"Early in the year we were very passive, and to be honest, we were a little intimated by their environment," South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said. "Seward is one of the toughest places to play in the country, and we started off slow and got in a hole.
"Today, our fans were unbelievable, and Dr. Satterwhite gave an excuse note and the campus was let out and they didn't disappoint. They had lots and lots of energy and were acting crazy and it definitely helped us."
South Plains freshman Sarah Shematsi led all scorers in the contest as the 6-2 forward from Angers, France went off for a career-high 28 points, connecting on 11 of 20 attempts from the field and finished 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. Sophomore Keke Hunter recorded her 21st double-double of the season, pouring in 20 points and snagged 16 boards, dropping in 8 of 12 shots from the floor and was 4 of 7 from the free throw line.
"I felt good, and I played inside and outside where usually I just stay on the 3-point line," Shematsi said. "I was very comfortable, and I was doing several things and knew if I missed the three, I could drive on the defense."
South Plains ripped off a 22-10 run to begin the contest, dropping in nine of their first 18 shots in the first quarter and held the Lady Saints to a 4 of 14 clip in the first 10 minutes. The Lady Texans would take a 39-29 lead into the break, shooting over 46 percent in the first half and netted 10 points on nine Seward' turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
"All week we've talked about playing not to lose but trying to dominate, and have that mindset regardless of the score," Petree said. "We just tried to go get the next one, and to keep that momentum going throughout the game."
The Lady Texans' offensive barrage continued in the back half as Hunter and Shematsi combined for 30 points over the final 20 minutes as South Plains shot 47.4 percent from the field and were 8 of 12 from behind the arc.
Outscoring the Lady Saints (30-4) 30-15 in the third quarter and leading by 25 heading into the final stint, South Plains held Seward to a 29 percent mark from the floor in the second half while dominating the Lady Saints 28-13 on the glass over the final 20 minutes.
"At the regional tournament, I was scared to re-injure my elbow," South Plains point guard Caroline Germond said. "I came out today and knew I had to play hard because we need to win, so I tried not to think about my elbow and play like I did at the beginning of the season and make shots. If I didn't, I knew Keke and Ruth would get the rebounds, so I felt good."
The Lady Texans recorded 50 points inside the paint and outrebounded Seward 51-25 on the glass. South Plains chipped in 17 points on 14 turnovers from the Lady Saints and bucketed 26 fastbreak points.
Germond finished with eight points, five assists, and five steals in 31 minutes of action while sophomore Chantel Govan dropped in eight points and grabbed four boards for the Lady Texans. Gabbie Green chipped in six points and hauled in 13 boards while Oceane Robin netted seven points coming off the bench for the Lady Texans