Excuse the Howard College womenâ€™s basketball team for feeling a little thwarted in Mondayâ€™s WJCAC opener against South Plains.
The Hawks didnâ€™t see a 2-3 zone defense at all in their first meeting with the Lady Texans in the WJCAC Pre-Conference Tournament, and they hadnâ€™t seen one in a while. So they were a little surprised to see it Monday night.
â€śIt kind of threw us off a little bit, but we got it under control,â€ť said Twyla Ards, who had 10 points.
That defense gave South Plains a chance to steal one on the road, but thanks to Tasha Tubbs and company, the Hawks staved off the Lady Texans in a 67-55 win to open conference play.
The Hawks had four players in double figures in their first home game in more than a month. Tubbs had a team-high 16 points, Taniqua Ards and Zeslie Johnson had 14 apiece and Twyla Ards was the other double-digit scorer.
The Lady Texans were looking to steal another win away from the Hawks. In the WJCAC Pre-Conference Tournament, South Plains beat Howard College in overtime, 67-64.
Howard was up at halftime 33-23 and while the zone created problems for the Hawks, the Lady Texans didnâ€™t have enough offensive firepower to get another win.
â€śIt was the first time we had seen a zone in maybe two months and I donâ€™t think we reacted very well,â€ť Howard head coach Earl Diddle said. â€śAs the game went on, I thought we got more aggressive and I think when we went up 12, they went to a 2-3 zone.
â€śI thought we sputtered there a little bit, got a little flat, got standing, lost our rhythm. Eventually, we got going.â€ť
And when the Hawks got going, Tubbs was there in the paintâ€” something Diddle hopes to see regularly during conference play.
Midway through the second half, the Lady Texans cut Howardâ€™s lead to 42-36, but a couple of free throws and a basket from Tubbs and another basket from Taniqua Ards brought the lead to 12.
The closest South Plains would get the rest of the way was five at 53-48, but once again, Tubbs came through and hit another shot and Johnson hit two free throws to bring the lead to nine.
Diddle noted free throws were huge in this game, but Tubbs said the Hawks didnâ€™t want to let South Plains beat them again.
â€śThe first game, we didnâ€™t come out ready to play,â€ť she said. â€śYouâ€™ve got to come out ready to play every game, the first half and second half. I think we did a lot better (Monday).â€ť
The South Plains game in the WJCAC Pre-Conference Tournament and this one have more similarities than Diddle can count.
What Diddle is proud of, though, is his players stepping up when South Plains kept pushing once again.
â€śI thought we shot the ball better here,â€ť he said. â€śThe first game we were up seven with four minutes to go and almost in the same scenario (Monday). (South Plains) never got an offensive thrust going, it was all second shots and our turnovers.â€ť
Howard 67, South Plains 55
South Plains 23 32 - 55
Howard 33 34 â€“ 67
Howard College â€” Tasha Tubbs 16, Taniqua Ards 14, Zeslie Johnson 14, Rtwyla Ards 10, Kali Jerrell 6, Porsche Young 5, Brushea Daniels 2
South Plains â€” ToiEasha Cooper 17, Kelsey Canavan 12, Ashley Roberts 9, Lauren McKinney 7, Lorie Romaine 6, Raely Parada 4
3-point field goals â€” Howard 3 (Tubbs 2, Young 1), South Plains 2 (Roberts 2)
Free throws â€” Howard 14-14, South Plains 5-8
Turnovers: Howard 14, South Plains 23
Fouls: Howard 10, South Plains 11
Records: Howard (15-3, 1-0 in WJCAC play), South Plains (9-5, 0-10)
Next game: Howard vs. New Mexico Junior College at