LEVELLAND — Howard College Men's Basketball Coach Mark Adams isn't much one for moral victories, but even he saw a little bit of a silver lining in the Hawks' nail-bitingly close loss to top-ranked South Plains Monday night.
The Hawks pushed South Plains down to the wire — almost to the last second, actually — before finally dropping a 65-62 decision in Western Junior College Athletic Conference action.
Howard (14-5 overall, 3-2 in conference play) battled severe foul trouble most of the second half, yet were able to play even with the Texans. Neither team dominated the final 20 minutes — South Plains never led by more than seven points, while the Hawks' biggest advantage came when Calvin Godfrey nailed a three-pointer to make the score 51-48 with 7:48 remaining.
But it was at the foul line that the game was decided — South Plains was 16 for 21, while the Hawks sank less than half (5 of 12) of their free throws.
“Free throws were a huge factor in the outcome of the game. That was pretty much the difference, Adams said. “When you shoot under 50 percent from the free throw line in a game as big as this, you're not going to win.”
Shavon Coleman's three-pointer with 3:35 remaining tied the game at 56-all, but South Plains never trailed again — although the Texans (20-0, 5-0) weren't able to finally ice matters until Marshall Henderson sank a pair of free thows with 2.3 seconds remaining.
Coleman led Howard with 15 points — 12 of which came on three-point shots — while Godfrey and Jacob Thomas each scored 14 points.
Despite disappointed in the final result, Adams did see some things he liked in his team's performance.
“I thought there were several areas we improved in,” Adams said. “I was disappointed with our play in the final five minutes — we didn't execute that well — but the guys played hard and we had a chance to win the game at the end.”
Howard returns to action Thursday when the Hawks host New Mexico Junior College at Dorothy Garrett Coliseum. Both teams are tied with identical 3-2 WJCAC records.
“New Mexico is one of the best teams in the conference right now,” Adams said. “It will be a huge game for us. We are going to have to protect the home court if we're going to have a chance to win this conference.”
Game time is 7:45 p.m. Thursday.
South Plains 43
Howard College 36
In a defensive battle, the South Plains Lady Texans found a few more shots than Howard College Monday night.
South Plains canned only 30 percent of its shots from the field, but that was enough to claim a 43-36 victory over the Hawks Monday.
As tough as it was for the Lady Texans to find a field goal, it was even worse for Howard, which made less than 20 percent of its field goal attempts in the game.
“I was really disappointed in our shot selection,” HC Coach Earl Diddle said. “Coming off our loss to Odessa (Friday), I thought we hung in there and were in a position to take the lead, but we just couldn't get any momentum going offensively or defensively.”
Porche Young and Marion Lemonnier each scored seven points to lead Howard, which fell to 14-7 overall and 1-3 in WJCAC action with the loss. Stephanie Moore scored 16 points to pace South Plains, which improved to 5-16 and 2-3 with the victory.
Things won't get any easier for the Hawks in their next game — a Thursday battle with conference leader New Mexico Junior College at Dorothy Garrett Coliseum.
“It will all come down to concentration and execution,” Diddle said. “We've got a lot of young players on this team and their execution isn't what it should be right now.”
Game time Thursday is 5:45 p.m.