Cougars fall to South Plains

The Western Nebraska Community College men's basketball team gave a valiant effort, but came up on the short end 85-67 to No. 9 South Plains College in the first day of the WNCC Classic Friday evening.

The final score definitely wasn't an indication of how close the contest was. WNCC coach Russ Beck said this is a contest that the team can definitely take plenty of positives from in the way they never gave up despite being down by 26 in the first half.

"If you weren't here at the game the score will look one way, but if you were here at the game you saw us really claw and battle in the second half," Beck said. "I am really proud of the boys. I think the game can serve a purpose because in the end it is all about that finish line in March. I think this game will make us better. I just loved how the boys battled to the end. We were down 26 points in the first half and we cut it down to eight. Give South Plains credit, they are a loaded team. They have a great coach and when we went on our runs they knocked down some threes to keep us at bay. But, you know, Western Nebraska didn't lay down tonight."

The Cougars easily could have folded in the first half after South Plains ran out to a 10-0 lead and later 29-8. South Plains even led by their biggest margin of 26 points (36-10) with seven minutes to play. WNCC never quite as the Cougars out-scored the Texans 17-8 in the final six minutes of the half to only trail by 17 at intermission 44-27.

WNCC continued excelling in the second half as they went on a 11-2 run to open the second 20 minutes to cut the lead to 11 points, 46-35. South Plains never let the Cougars get to single digits until late. With South Plains leading 69-54, WNCC went on a 6-0 run that sliced the deficit to single digits at 69-60 with 2:41 to play.

South Plians, however, responded by hitting some clutch free throws down the stretch. The Texans were 16 of 18 in the final two minutes of the game to seal the win for the ninth ranked team.

Beck said this team doesn't have to hang their head after this loss.

"We have to look at all the positives and briefly look at the negatives and get a little bit better," he said. "We wanted to cut those offensive rebounds where they average 20 and they got 20. A lot of their points were second chance. It is one thing that we have to learn and grow. We still are green and we are not playing our best basketball, but I hope we get ripe at the right time."

WNCC stayed with the No. 9 ranked team on the glass. South Plains out-rebounded the Cougars 52-46. South Plains' Roderick Lawrence led all teams with 11 boards, while the Cougars' Brandon Morley finished with nine boards.

The Texans had five players in double figures. Lawrence had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Martin led all scorers with 19 points.

WNCC was led by Tyler Crosbie with 12 points followed by Peter Dewtang and Austin Clark with nine points each.

A big key in the contest was free throw shooting. There were a combined 56 fouls called. South Plains was 28 of 38 from the charity stripe, while the Cougars were 21 of 28.

WNCC will wrap up the WNCC Classic today when they face Raleigh's Academy at 3 p.m. The first game of the day at 1 p.m. will pit Central Wyoming against South Plains. Central Wyoming defeated Raleigh's 83-57.



First Game

Raleigh's 29 28 – 57

Central Wyo. 47 36 – 83

RALEIGH'S

Dejoun Sanders 10, Christ Thompson 4, Rontrez Purcell 8, Jonathan Maurice 6, Kendall Collins 4, Jabar Ray 14, Densil Burrows 3, Joshua Norse 2, Eric Boyd 6.

CENTRAL WYOMING

Matt Johnson 5, Elmer Lopez 11, Bryce Canda 2, Ricky Norris 5, Daryle Morgan 4, Jairo Lopes 16, Blake Cleravinga 6, Isaiah Tademy 8, Malik Wilson 26.



Second Game

South Plains 44 41 -- 85

WNCC 27 40 -- 57

SOUTH PLAINS

Andre Spright 10, Billydee Williams 6, Sekou Harris 14, Malik Nichols 8, Emmanuel Omogbo 2, Roderick Lawrence 14, Cedrick McAfee 13, Ryan Martin 18.

WNCC

Tyler Crosbie 12, Youssoupha Kane 6, Diante Mitchell 8, DouDou Gueye 5, Joel Einfeldt 6, Peter Dewtang 9, Derrick Bowers 4, Brandon Morley 8, Austin Clark 9.

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