By Mike Pilosof
Levelland, TX-Oh how things can change in 24 hours.
On Sunday, Kavita Akula's feel-good story of setting the school record with nine 3-pointers in a win over Pratt was replaced with cold shooting, turnovers and a game that got away from Garden City very quickly.
Elizabeth Cera scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter; the Broncbusters shot a dismal 32 percent from the floor, and No. 9 South Plains ran away from Garden City 69-50 at the Texan Dome.
"We can't find a way to get the ball in the basket," Garden City Head Coach Nick Salazar said afterwards. "That's the frustrating thing. And today, again, the turnovers killed us."
The Broncbusters finished with 20 giveaways, eight of them coming in a third quarter to forget.
Garden City (6-7, 4-5) missed 12 of their 15 shots in the third. Couple that with all the turnovers, and the end result was an 11-0 South Plains run, which turned a close contest into a blowout.
"There were stretches of the first half where we looked like the better team," Salazar said. "But that's the problem; it's only for stretches."
The Texans certainly didn't play like a top-10 team in the first quarter, despite building a 10-point lead, they were just 7-of-20 from the floor after 10 minutes.
"We stayed with them," Salazar said. "We did a lot of good things in the first half."
Trailing 18-8 late in the first, Akula finally got on track, burying her first of three triples on the afternoon to cut the South Plains (11-1, 2-0) lead to seven after one. That run continued into the second. Jessica Carillo hit two free throws followed by five straight points from Monica Barefield. Then, with her team down three, Akula drained a trey to knot the score at 22 with 3:32 to go in the first half.
There was one of those stretches that Salazar was talking about. Unfortunately, like Akula's hot shooting a day earlier, it dissipated as quickly as it started.
The Broncbusters managed just two points the final 3:30 as the Texans closed the half on a 10-2 run to take an eight-point lead into the half.
It only got worse in the third.
Cera was 5-of-6 shooting in the period, draining three 3-pointers and fueling an 11-0 spurt that put the Texans up 20.
"We need a break," Salazar said. "We need to figure some things out, and I think this break comes at a great time."
Annie Osceola enjoyed a breakout game in the losing effort, scoring nine of her 11 points in a third quarter that saw her convert three, 3-point plays. Akula finished with nine points on just 3-of-9 shooting. Barefield chipped in nine and Carillo added eight. DeRae Lewis fouled out with seven points and 11 boards.
Felicia Jackson scored 12 points for the Texans, who won their 11th straight game. Yanina Inkina added eight and Oral Roberts transfer Jasauen Beard had seven.
Notes: South Plains led by as many as 21 points…It was the fifth time this season Garden City turned it over 20 or more times…The Broncbusters were outscored 20-8 in the third quarter…South Plains had just five turnovers; they entered Sunday's game averaging the 12th fewest giveaways in the nation…Tionnia McKee missed her second straight game with a concussion
Next up: Garden City at Coffeyville-Wednesday, January 4-5:15 pm pregame; 5:30 pm tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and mobile app: KWKR