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SLCC men's basketball team can't maintain late lead, falls 79-78 to South Plains College in NJCAA tournament

No. 4 seed Salt Lake Community College couldn’t hold on to a late lead and fell 79-78 to 13th-seeded South Plains College in the second round of the NJCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday in Hutchinson, Kansas.

After trailing through much of the game, the Bruins (31-4) went ahead 78-74 on a Kur Kuath dunk with 1:07 to play, capping a 9-2 run for SLCC.

With 49 seconds to play, the Texans (25-8) made it a one-point game when Ben Perez hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game.

Following an empty possession by SLCC, the Bruins’ Hunter Schofield fouled Deshawn Corprew with eight seconds remaining. Corprew made both free throws, giving the Texans a 79-78 lead, and Dalven Brushier missed a 3-pointer on the Bruins’ final attempt.

Salt Lake Community College outshot South Plains 55.8 percent to 41.4 percent from the field and the Bruins made 10 of 18 3-pointers, better than the Texans’ 9-of-21 mark from beyond the arc.

What hurt SLCC the most, though, was South Plains’ ability to create extra opportunities on offense. The Texans grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, compared to four for the Bruins, and had a 24-5 edge in second-chance points.

SLCC, which was making its first appearance at the NJCAA national tournament since winning the championship in 2016, trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half and nine in the second before rallying to make it a tight game down the stretch.

Brushier helped spur that rally, as he scored 11 points and hit a team-high three 3-pointers while adding six assists. Kuath scored 14 points and had seven rebounds to lead SLCC.

The Texans’ Isaiah Maurice led all scorers with 22 points, shooting 10 of 16 from the field, and adding seven rebounds. Perez added 18 points for South Plains.

The loss ends SLCC's season. South Plains, meanwhile, advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals to face the winner of No. 5 seed Coffeyville and 12th-seeded Connors State.