The Odessa College Lady Wranglers waited too long before mounting a furious comeback Thursday.
Down 18 points early in the fourth quarter of their WJCAC matchup against Midland College at the Chaparral Center, the Lady Wranglers closed to within five points in the final three minutes before the Lady Chaps held on for a 69-61 victory.
Odessa College (11-4 overall, 1-1 WJCAC) slipped to fourth place in the conference standings with the loss.
"I think it's early enough in the season that, hopefully, we take something from it, we learn from it and we get better from it," Odessa College coach Ara Baten said.
Midland College (14-3, 3-1) never trailed after scoring the game's first six points. The Lady Chaps are a half-game out of first place in the conference standings.
"I really liked our effort for most of the game," Midland College coach Ron Jones said. "I thought Odessa College was more aggressive than we were in that fourth quarter. We give credit to them, but I liked where we were mentally. I don't know if we got tired or tentative, but I would like to finish some of those possessions. We had some bad turnovers on offense that we didn't need."
Grace Beasley led the Lady Chaps with 26 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Ogechi Nwodo added 10 points. Bethany Theodore scored nine points for Midland College and Lana Marov had eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds as the Lady Chaps finished with a 44-33 edge on the boards.
Odessa College missed its first seven shots before McDonald hit the team's first basket with 6:09 left in the opening period. The Lady Wranglers got within 9-7 midway through the quarter before Midland College finished the period with an 11-3 surge to lead 20-10.
"I think I didn't put us in a very good position, defensively, early in the game to defend what they were doing," Baten said. "A lot of that's on me just scheme-wise. I've got to be better than that. I put our kids in a bad spot early in the game.
The Lady Wranglers made another move to start the second quarter, pulling within 20-16 on McDonald's basket with 7:14 left in the half, but the Lady Chaps, again, responded. Beasley hit one of her four 3-pointers with 37 seconds remaining to put Midland College ahead 36-20 and cap a 16-4 run.
Midland College kept the margin in double figures throughout the third quarter and took a 52-37 lead into the fourth. Two free throws by Beasley with 7:54 remaining gave the Lady Chaps their biggest lead at 59-41 before Odessa College finally got things going.
The Lady Wranglers held Midland College scoreless for more than four minutes, but still trailed by 14 with 3:35 remaining. Odessa College scored the next nine points, cutting the deficit to 62-57 on Lemon's 3-pointer with 2:43 to go, but missed three chances to make it a one-possession game the rest of the way.
ARTICLE BY: SAM WALLER - ODESSA AMERICAN
PHOTO BY: JACOB FORD- ODESSA AMERICAN