Sumbane, Ivanova power South Plains past North Dakota State College of Science, 65-42.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Celia Sumbane poured in a game-high 22 points, and South Plains College used a strong inside-outside game to pull away late from North Dakota State College of Science for a 65-42 victory in the opening round of the NJCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Championship on Wednesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Viktoria Ivanova added 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as SPC (21-8) used a 10-0 run late in the third quarter and a 10-2 run early in the fourth to put some distance between itself and the Wildcats (30-3).
“Celia Sumbane is a matchup problem for a lot of people, and we took advantage of that matchup tonight, early,” SPC head coach Ara Baten said. “That kind of softened everything up for the perimeter kids later. I thought we played inside-out about as well as we have offensively.”
The Lady Texans will move on to the second round where they will face defending national champion Northwest Florida State (27-2) at 1 p.m. on Friday. SPC was eliminated by Northwest Florida, 63-54, in the quarterfinals of the 2021 tournament and has lost to the Raiders twice this season, once at Thanksgiving and the other on New Year’s Eve.
“They’re great,” Baten said. “I’m hoping the old coaching adage that it’s tough to beat a team three times (in one season) is true. But they are very, very talented and very aggressive and very well-coached. We’ll definitely have our hands full.”
The Wildcats struggled handling both the Lady Texans’ ability to hit from outside and Sumbane’s low-post ability inside at the same time. NDSCS could handle one at a time, but not both. Ivanova scored eight of her 12 points in the first half, while Sumbane scored 13 of her 22 in the second half.
Conversely, the Lady Texans held North Dakota to its lowest point total of the season, which previously was 61 on three different occasions in 2021-22. North Dakota shot just 28 percent from the field (16 of 57) and was just 2 for 14 from 3-point range.
“For the first game of the tournament, maybe we were a little nervous at the beginning, but I thought defensively we were really good and we had some good individual performances. They’ve got some very talented offensive players and we made it at least a little difficult on them to score.”
Ivane Tensaie led the Wildcats with 17 points while Arthel Massaquoi added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Ambah Kowcun chipped in 10 in the losing effort.
South Plains got off to a fantastic start and as Ivanova connected on a pair of early 3-pointers, both of which came as part of a 10-0 run to forge an 18-7 lead that grew into a 21-9 advantage after the first 10 minutes.
The Lady Texans kept that lead at double digits until North Dakota SCS slowly started chipping away early in the second. An 8-0 run pulled the Wildcats to within 24-19 before SPC scored two straight to push the lead to 28-19. That’s when NDSCS closed with a pair of free throws, a 3-pointer from Ivane Tensaie and a bucket by Ambah Kowcun to make it 31-25. SPC then added a bucket at the buzzer by Sumbane to push the lead to eight at the intermission.
South Plains shot the ball well in the first quarter, hitting on 9 of 18 shots before cooling off in the second quarter to finish the first half at 39.4 percent from the field. Conversely, North Dakota struggled to start, hitting only 4 of its first 17 shots but was 6 of 15 in the second quarter. South Plains also win the rebounding edge in the first half, 24-20.
South Plains then used a 10-0 run late in the third quarter and a 10-2 run early in the fourth to put the game away.