The Odessa College Wranglers made things harder than they needed to be Monday, but they escaped the Chaparral Center with a 78-77 overtime victory over Midland College to remain unbeaten in Western Junior College men's basketball action.
L.J. Figueroa, who scored a game-high 27 points, hit an off-balance, running hook shot with 11 seconds left, and Midland College's upset bid fell short when Marquell Fraser's shot at the buzzer hit the front of the rim and fell off. Fraser finished with 25 points to lead the Chaparrals.
Odessa College led 46-29 early in the second half, but Midland College rallied to take the lead in the final minute of regulation.
"I was disappointed in how we got up by 17 and kind of let off the gas," Odessa College coach Tra Arnold said. "We have to put 40 minutes together and we haven't been able to do that. But any time you get a road win and find out something's inside — we fought back after being down — we'll take it.
"I told them in the locker room we're happy we won, but that's not good enough at this point. We've got to continue to try to get better in every aspect. I thought we did some good things, but I thought we did some very mediocre things, too."
Figueroa said winning after trailing in the final minute of both regulation and overtime was a big step for the Wranglers.
"It shows that we have a lot to come back from being down," he said. "We're usually never down, but to come back and bring it to the first overtime game of my college career, it was great to have a buzzer-beater shot."
J.J. Simpson added 12 points off the bench for Odessa College, while Kejuan Johnson finished with 10 points.
Kevin Kangu added 17 points for Midland College with Erkam Kiris scoring 14 off the bench.
Fifth-ranked Odessa College (22-2 overall, 11-0 WJCAC) won its 13th in a row to remain 2 1/2 games ahead of South Plains College in the conference standings. Midland College (8-18, 4-8) remained sixth in the standings, three games back of Howard College for the final spot in the NJCAA Region 5 tournament.
The Chaps went ahead 68-67 when Kayo Goncalves, who finished with nine points, hit a 3-pointer with a minute to go. It was the Chaps' first lead since the opening minute of the game. The Wranglers forced the overtime when Josh Boyd hit one of two free throws with 33.9 seconds left, but two Wrangler shots to win in the final seconds missed.
In the extra period, Odessa College built a four-point lead, but Fraser's three-point play with 1:46 remaining got the Chaps back in it. Kangu converted a one-and-one opportunity with 25.9 seconds left to put Midland College in front 77-76.
After a pair of Wrangler timeouts to set up a play, Figueroa tried to drive the lane but was forced to the right side. In the air, he flipped a right-handed shot over his head that hit nothing but net.
"I don't know (how it went in)," he said. "We're in the gym a lot, practicing a lot on the shots. It went down."
Article by Sam Waller
Photo by Tim Fischer