Seward County bounces South Plains, 87-69, on strength of three-point shooting.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Follett product Mollie Mounsey scored a game-high 26 points, including six three-pointers, as No. 8 Seward County Community College marked its return to the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship with an 87-69 victory over No. 9 seed South Plains College on Wednesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Neidy Ocuane added 21 points for the Saints (32-2), which advances to the quarterfinals to face top seed and No. 1-ranked Gulf Coast State at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Mounsey wasn’t the only Saints shooter to find her stroke from long range. Ocuane added 21 points, 12 from beyond the arc, and 6-foot-8 center Joanna Grymek added the necessary inside presence, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as Seward finished with just one more two-point goal (17) than it did three-point goals (16).
“We have a great three-point shooting team,” Seward head coach Toby Wynn said. “We hadn’t played in a couple of weeks so we felt like early on that fatigue would get the best of us. Just don’t panic, keep your composure and once our players saw the ball go through the basket we began to relax a little bit and started playing a little more comfortably.”
Yanina Inkina led South Plains (28-6) with 18 points and was one of four Lady Texans to finish in double figures. Elizabeth Cera added 15 points, Jasauen Beard 14 points and Brittany Smith 11.
But the Lady Texans could not keep up with the perimeter shooting for Seward, hitting just 8 of 34 from beyond the arc and shooting just 10 of 33 in the second half overall.
“They hit 16 threes and shot 41 percent from the field, and that’s just really impressive at our level. And it’s not like we didn’t identify their shooters,” South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said. “They were just making contested shots. They’re very balanced. They have the inside game and they have the outside game and shooters all the way around.”
Leading by just four at halftime, Seward put the game out of reach early in the third quarter as Mounsey and Ocuane both hit three-pointers as the Saints opened the half on a 11-5 run to establish a 58-47 lead. Seward held South Plains to just four field goals in the third quarter, which ended with the Saints on an 11-4 outburst to push the lead to 69-54 at the end of the period.
Try as they might, the Lady Texans could not close the gap enough to make a run at the lead the rest of the way.
The first half had all the makings of a heavyweight slugfest, with both teams landing haymakers yet also getting up off the mat and landing big punches of their own.
South Plains started the game on fire, scoring the first eight points of the game with a pair of inside buckets and an Elizabeth Cera three-pointer. Seward, however, absorbed that punch and closed to within 17-16 at the end of the period thanks to a 10-5 run.
Then, it was Seward’s turn to land some blows, opening the second period with four straight points to take its first lead of the game. South Plains rallied to regain the lead at 23-22 and again at 31-30 before the Saints landed the biggest punches of the half.
Follett product Mollie Mounsey drained a trio of threes late in the second period, the third one giving the Saints a 44-37 lead with just under 40 seconds to play. Jasauen Beard answered with five straight points for the Lady Texans to pull to within two before Mounsey hit a transition layup just before the buzzer to make it 46-42 at the intermission.
Mounsey finished the half with 16 points and Ocuane added 10.
Cera paced South Plains with 12 first-half point and Beard chipped in 10.