The Odessa College Wranglers overcame a late lull Thursday to hold off the Midland College Chaparrals for a 71-61 victory in Western Junior College Athletic Conference men's action at the OC Sports Center.
Keandre Cook scored 16 points and L.J. Figueroa added 12 as the Wranglers (14-2 overall, 3-0 WJCAC) won their fifth in a row. Midland College (5-13, 1-3) was led by Marquell Fraser with 19 points, while Amari Hale and Kayo Goncalves each scored 11.
Wranglers coach Tra Arnold was happy to take the win, but was more concerned with Odessa College allowing a 17-point lead to shrink to four late in the game,
"We just couldn't get it to stretch past 14, 15, 16," Arnold said. "We couldn't get it to 20. In the first half, we had 13 turnovers. That's when we could have maybe delivered some separation. But you've got to give (Midland College) credit. They kept battling and stuck to their game plan and made a run late.
"When you play like we did, you deserve to be in a dogfight. We've got to learn from it and grow. Luckily, we figured out a way to win the game, but a lot of room for growth, a lot of room in our team to get better."
Odessa College, ranked No. 12 in NJCAA Division I, used an 11-0 run in the first half to open up a 24-7 lead, while Midland College made just two field goals in the first 13 minutes.
The Wranglers matched the 17-point margin twice in the second half, the last at 53-36, and the Chaps trailed by double figures until Fraser hit a pair of free throws with 6:37 remaining to cut the deficit to 58-49. Fraser's basket with 4:10 to go capped a 21-8 run that got the Chaps within 61-57 before the Wranglers regrouped.
Midland College, which shot just 22.2 percent in the first half (6 of 27), more than doubled that production in the second half, going 13 of 27 (48.1 percent).
"Honestly, I thought we broke down defensively a few times and they got open shots, which is uncharacteristic of our team," Arnold said. "We'll take it and move on. This is our second game back after not playing for a month. Hopefully, we'll continue to get better this weekend and be prepared to play on Monday (at Western Texas College)."
Two quick layups by Braxton Shaw, who had nine points off the bench, sparked an 8-0 run for Odessa College and pushed the lead back to 12 with 1:54 remaining. The Wranglers' bench outscored Midland College's 23-4 asJ.J. Simpson scored eight points and Jahnathan Maxwell added six.
The Wranglers shot 53.3 percent from the floor (24 of 45), including 47.1 percent (8 of 17) from 3-point range. Odessa College also finished with a 36-21 rebounding advantage as Kelvin Jones grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Jermaine Haley had nine points and eight assists and Figueroa contributed six assists.
Article by Sam Waller OA
Photo by Jacob Ford OA