ARTICLE BY: TONY VENEGAS | OA SPORTS
For a portion of the second half, it looked like it was going to be a case of déjà vu for the Odessa College men's basketball team against Midland College.
The Wranglers made sure that there would be a different result this time.
Odessa College locked down defensively over the final two minutes and overcame some slow offensive stretches to hold on for a 55-51 victory over the Chaparrals in Western Junior College Athletic Conference play Monday at the OC Sports Center.
The victory pushed the Wranglers (13-11 overall, 6-5 WJCAC) over .500 in conference play for the first time this season.
Odessa College has won five of its past six games.
"Holding them to 51 points is a positive but scoring 23 in the second half is not a positive," Odessa College head coach Kris Baumann said. "At this point in the year though, all you got to do is win games and it doesn't matter how sexy it is. "Our guys did that tonight and I'm happy for them."
Elijah Scranton led Midland College (10-15, 3-8) with 12 points and eight rebounds while Steven Richardson and Derrick Ogechi added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The start of the first half was a back-and-forth battle as a 3-pointer from Victor Rosario put the Wranglers ahead just seconds into the game. The Chaparrals responded quickly, however, to take an 8-7 lead.
A David Ward 3-pointer gave the Wranglers the lead back and sparked a 10-2 run to build an 18-10 advantage.
After Midland College cut the lead down to 21-17, Odessa College went on an 11-2 run, pushing its lead to 12 points before taking a 32-23 lead into the locker room.
Just like the first meeting, Midland College started the second half strong, scoring the first seven points of the half, before regaining a 34-33 lead on a Richardson basket less than four minutes after the break.
Diedhiou had an answer for the Wranglers and his basket on the ensuing possession gave the Wranglers the lead back at 35-34.
The lead changed hands 12 times during the game, including seven times in the second half, but Odessa College was able to go back up 50-45 lead with less than five minutes left in the game.
That's when Diedhiou made one of his strongest plays of the night, delivering a dunk off an offensive rebound to give the Wranglers a 52-45 lead with 3:58 to go.
"It was just a lot of hard work tonight," Diedhiou said. "The coaches kept telling me to keep working and just do stuff better. My teammates needed me and I didn't want to let them down."
It turned out to be the last field goal for the Wranglers and Richardson connected on a 3-pointer got the Chaparrals back to 54-51 with 1:55 remaining.
But after Jones made one of two free throws to make it 55-51 with 24.6 seconds remaining, the Wranglers made one final defensive stand to seal the win.