The Odessa College Lady Wranglers kept coming back Monday, but the Midland College Lady Chaparrals held on for a 65-62 victory in a key Western Junior College Athletic Conference women's basketball matchup at the Chaparral Center.
Odessa College overcame a 10-point deficit to take a 56-54 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Midland College outscored the Lady Wranglers 11-6 the rest of the way.
"I think you've got to give Midland a lot of credit," Odessa College coach Ara Baten said. "They made more plays than we did. In a game like that, it comes down to a possession or two. They got us on the glass a little bit (outrebounding the Lady Wranglers 41-32) and that hurt us. They got us in transition a couple of times."
Midland College lost two earlier meetings with the Lady Wranglers, falling 42-39 in November in the WNIT and 49-43 at Odessa College on Jan. 11.
"They've all been close games and we just found a way to get it," Lady Chaps coach Ron Jones said. "Odessa's got a really good team and they kept coming at us.
"I thought we played well. We didn't handle the pressure like I wish we would, but we'll take it. It's a good win for us."
Ella Tofaeono led Midland College with 20 points, 17 of them in the first half, while Bianca Thacker had 13 points and nine rebounds. Bethany Theodore added eight points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Lady Chaps.
The big difference was free throws. Midland College made 16 of 21 at the line, while the Lady Wranglers went 2 of 7, missing all four attempts in the second half.
Odessa College (16-8 overall, 4-5 WJCAC) dropped percentage points behind Howard College in the race for the fourth and final berth in the NJCAA Region 5 tournament. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Lady Wranglers, who were playing for the first time since Feb. 1.
Midland College (14-10, 7-4) strengthened its postseason chances with its third consecutive victory. The Lady Chaps moved within a half game of Frank Phillips College for second place in the WJCAC standings and hold a two-game lead over Howard College for third place.
Midland College used a 12-1 run to take a 23-13 lead early in the second quarter and led by eight with three minutes left in the half. Odessa College scored the last five points of the second quarter to trail by three at halftime.
The Lady Wranglers took a 41-39 lead on a Dozier 3-pointer early in the third quarter and Soares scored eight points in the period to keep the game close. Another Dozier 3-pointer gave Odessa College a 56-54 lead with 7:45 to go in the game, but the Lady Wranglers did not score again for more than five minutes. Midland College took advantage, running off 10 consecutive points to take the lead for good.
Alexandrea Washington, who finished with nine points, hit a 3-pointer to give the Lady Chaps a 62-56 lead with 3:48 to go. Odessa College got within two with 19 seconds left, but Chinna Fair's desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer fell short.
Article by Sam Waller
Photo by Tim Fischer