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No. 1 Texans Fall to No. 3 Odessa 74-68 Thursday

April 2, 2021

ODESSA — The top-ranked South Plains College men’s basketball team battled back from a 16-point second half deficit to get within four points in the final minutes of Thursday night’s showdown with third-ranked Odessa, but a pair of timely free throws in the final seconds would be enough as the Wranglers topped the Texans 74-68 at the OC Sports Center.

Despite the loss, the first for South Plains this season moving their record to 17-1 on the year and 12-1 in league play, the Texans earned a share of the Western Junior College Athletic Conference title, which they split with Odessa, who also finished with a single loss in conference.

Following Thursday’s game, the Texans were named the No. 1 seed in the WJCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament, which came via a coin flip tiebreaker. South Plains will make their postseason debut on Tuesday, April 6th at 8 p.m. at Lubbock Christian University. The Texans will take on the winner of Monday night’s 6 p.m. matchup which features fourth-seeded Howard College, who will await the winner of Clarendon College, the fifth seed, and Midland College, the eighth seed, who play at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Trailing by 14 at the midway point, The Texans would get within striking distance at the 14:46 mark of the second half as sophomore big man Yuot Gai dropped in a jump shot to trim the deficit to 45-36. South Plains continued to chip away, getting within five with 9:21 to play thanks to a Philmon Gebrewhit 3-pointer to bring the score to 56-51 in favor of Odessa.

Odessa would answer and extend their lead back to nine, 70-61 with under five minutes left on a jumper from Alphousseyni Diedhiou. South Plains responded with a 5-0 run, getting within four, 70-66 on another 3 from Gebrewhit with 2:50 to go. Following a pair of free throws from the Texans’ Jevonnie Scott which brought the score to 72-68, South Plains would foul Odessa’s Tre Richardson with 29 seconds to play. Richardson knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Wranglers up six in the final seconds, evening the series at a game apiece in league play.

South Plains’ Rivaldo Soares led all scorers in the contest with 21 points and 13 boards, connecting on 6 of 13 shots from the field, and was 3 of 7 from distance over 40 minutes. Gebrewhit provided 14 points off the bench for the Texans, pouring in a trio of 3s and was 5 of 6 from the charity stripe. Gai netted 12 points and five rebounds while Benjamin Bayela had eight points and Dalph Panopio had six points.

(Thanks Jordan Irvine, Sports Information Coordinator, South Plains College,

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