The Odessa College Wranglers survived another test Thursday, rallying from a 14-point deficit to defeat the Western Texas College Westerners 100-93 in two overtimes in WJCAC action at the OC Sports Center.
Fifth-ranked Odessa College (23-2 overall, 12-0 WJCAC) upped the level of difficulty in winning their 14th game in a row. After coming back in the final minute of regulation and overtime on Monday to defeat Midland College on the road, the Wranglers not only went to a second extra period Thursday, they played it without L.J. Figueroa, who fouled out at the end of the first overtime after scoring 28 points.
Figueroa hit three free throws with 28.4 seconds left in regulation to force the first overtime, then extended the game again by hitting a free throw with 11.5 seconds left in the first extra period.
Josh Boyd, who finished with 12 points off the bench, hit a 3-pointer to start the second overtime to put the Wranglers ahead 90-87. It was Odessa College's first lead since 21-20. The Wranglers took the lead for good when Jermaine Haley, who finished with 16 points, scored with 2:03 remaining.
"Guys stepped up and made plays, made free throws and did enough to pull it out," Odessa College coach Tra Arnold said.
Western Texas College (13-12, 2-10) played nothing like team at the bottom of the conference standings. Westerners coach Andre Owens said he couldn't have asked for more from his team.
"They're fighting for me," Owens said. "They're coming to practice every day and playing hard. The record doesn't show how hard they've worked, but they keep coming. I've got to love them for that."
Miles McDougal scored a game-high 31 points to lead the Westerners with Nigel Allen adding 20 points. Demarcus Hartfield scored 13 points and Jordan Fullerton had 10.
Odessa College countered by having every player that saw action score at least four points. The Wranglers hit 34 of 52 free throws as the Westerners committed 35 fouls.
"Odessa's a good team," Owens said. "You've got to take it from them. You've got to beat them."
After nine lead changes in the first half, Western Texas College went on a 14-4 run to go up 40-28 with three minutes left in the first half. The Westerners led 45-33 at halftime and went up by 14 when Johnnie Jones hit the first basket of the second half.
"They were out-toughing us," Arnold said. "That's what made it a little disappointing for me. And we turned the ball over too much, which is mental toughness, too.
"It shouldn't take me to get them jump-started at halftime. It's got to come from within, and we'll have it. We'll get it there. We'll get it to where we need to get it."
The Wranglers, who committed 11 of their 15 turnovers in the first half, slowly clawed their way back, getting within 57-53 on Figueroa's basket with 10:02 left in regulation. The Westerners pushed the lead back to eight with less than six minutes remaining, but Odessa College closed to 74-73 when Figueroa scored with 1:19 to go.
In the first overtime, Western Texas College led 87-81 with 1:08 remaining, but the Wranglers scored the next six points to tie the game for the eighth time.
After Haley scored the go-ahead basket in the second overtime, he added a fast-break dunk to put the Wranglers up 94-91 and Odessa College hit four of six free throws in the final 36 seconds to seal the victory.
Article by Sam Waller
Photo by Jacob Ford