Beard, Inkina power South Plains College past Monroe College, 85-73
LUBBOCK, Texas – Jasauen Beard scored 15 of her game- and career-high 32 points in the fourth quarter as No. 9 seed South Plains College held off No. 24 seed Monroe College 85-73 in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship on Monday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Yanina Inkina added 22 points for the Lady Texans (28-5), who advance to the Round of 16 where they will face eight-seeded Seward County Community College (31-2) on Tuesday at 4 p.m..
Beard, who added had 13 rebounds, also helped the Lady Texans dominate from the free-throw line. SPC hit 33 of 39 from the charity stripe, including 17 of 20 in the second half as the Lady Texans expanded on a six-point halftime lead.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” South Plains head coach Cayla Petree said of her two top scorers. “I grabbed them before the game started and told them both that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time moments. Both of them are. Our team is very balanced and we have a lot of good players, but we’ve been on their backs all year long and they both stepped up huge.”
Elizabeth Cera added 13 points for SPC, which was able to get to the free-throw line and negate the Lady Mustangs’ height advantage and outrebound Monroe (21-7) 41-29.
“The reason I started to play more aggressive was because of the hustle plays from my teammates,” Beard said. “Maddie (Dorris) had a lot of hustle plays that got our energy going. With her energy it got my energy going. To be honest I didn’t know I had that many points until the fourth quarter.”
Shania Johnson led Monroe with 19 points while Cristina Soriano added 13 and Lisana Burnett 10 in the loss. The Lady Mustangs led 17-11 at the end of the first quarter but could not hold onto the lead.
“This was a very difficult game for us,” Monroe head coach Ricky Johns said. “We watched quite a bit of film on them, and South Plains came out tough. They’re a very tough team and (Beard) is very athletic, and we struggled to box her out. They’re just solid offensively and our foul struggles early made us play a lot of zone, and they just picked their spots with their shooters.”
South Plains struggled out of the gate, struggling to control Monroe’s athleticism. That allowed the lady Mustangs to jump out early with an 8-2 lead.
In the process, however, Monroe’s height advantage with 6-foot-5 center Soriano was negated as she picked up two quick fouls and found herself on the bench for most of the rest of the first half. Still, South Plains couldn’t take advantage until the second quarter.
That’s when a Cera three-pointer sparked a 7-0 run to put the Lady Texans on top for the first time, 18-17. Monroe, however, would come back to regain the lead at 25-24 on four straight points off the bench by Jada Banks, who finished with eight in the first half to go with 10 from Johnson.
After trading three-pointers, South Plains went on an 8-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at 35-28, ending the half leading 37-31.
Inkina and Cera had 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Lady Texans through two quarters, and Jasauen Beard added eight.
South Plains shot 43 percent from the field in the first half but got no help off the bench as Monroe had 12 points from outside its starting five.