(NMMI freshman center Osborn Shema blocks a shot attempt by SPC forward Fredelin De La Cruz in the first half. Photo by Laura Brown)
Peter Dindinger – NMMI Sports Press
Back on Jan. 9, the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco men’s basketball team knocked off the South Plains College Texans by three points on the road.
Hoping for that same kind of magic, the Broncos returned home to the Godfrey Athletic Center on Monday night wanting to erase a four-game skid.
Behind a double-double performance from Osborn Shema, NMMI held off the Texans for a 68-60 victory.
South Plains College (17-7, 9-3) came in riding a seven-game winning streak.
“That game there kept us with a pulse,” said NMMI head coach Sean Schooley. “We’ve done some things to put ourselves in this position, being that we kind of show our age sometimes in this league.
“We’re playing against teams that are deeper than us, but every now and then this team kind of clicks and they play great defense.”
NMMI (12-11, 4-7) jumped out to a 10-5 lead with 14:20 in the first half.
The Broncos got some clutch shots by Zachary Bates, Jermane Carter and Andrew Cotton to extend their lead to six with 7:11 left to go until halftime.
To close out the first half NMMI made eight points off free throws to take a 12-point lead into the locker room at halftime. The Broncos shot 43 percent from the field in the first half.
Shema had 11 points and six rebounds during the first stanza to lead NMMI.
NMMI later extended its lead to 16 after Shema scored in the paint early in the second half. Two minutes later, South Plains chiseled away at the deficit to trail by nine points.
A three-pointer from Bronco point guard Jeremiah Barr put the Texans back into a double-digit deficit.
After Fura Cadeaux de Dieu got a bucket in the paint, the Broncos held a 10-point lead with 13:25 on the clock.
Shema and Barr made some clutch three-pointers down the line, but the Texans didn’t want to go down quietly.
Rivaldo Soares was fouled while attempting to shoot a three-pointer. He made all three free throws to get South Plains back within six with 1:05 to go.
Shema finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Cadeaux de Dieu chipped in with 12 points and six boards.
Barr added twin digits as well with 10 points.
NMMI also outrebounded the Texans, 40-36; went 15 for 17 from the free throw line; and shot 42 percent from the field (24 of 46).
“We’re always the underdogs. Obviously, we came in here confident,” Shema said. “We’ve knocked them down twice. Hopefully we just keep going and capitalize on that win.
“It really feels amazing. We needed it and thank God for this win.”
Soares and Jevonnie Scott each tallied 17 points for the Texans. Fredelin De La Cruz added 11.
NMMI continues to stay in the hunt for fourth place in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference. Every game from here on is crucial. The Broncos travel to Midland College at 6 p.m. CST Thursday.
“I can’t remember a time that we’ve swept South Plains,” Schooley said. “It’s tribute to the guys. Every now and then they just kind of do it. I don’t have the formula of why.
“They just decided tonight to buy into defense. If we keep in the 50’s or the 60’s, we give ourselves a really good opportunity.”