COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Wranglers able to hold off T-Birds

Odessa College men’s basketball coach Kris Baumann might have been able to breathe a little easier if the Wranglers’ free throws had dropped with regularity.

They didn’t and he couldn’t, until the final buzzer against New Mexico Junior College.

Chandler Cuthrell scored 23 points off the bench to lead Odessa College to a 76-69 victory against the T-Birds in Western Junior College Athletic Conference play at the OC Sports Center.

Dian Wright-Forde added 14 points, Dontrell Hewlett finished with 13 and Anthony Marshall had 10 in the victory.

The Wranglers improved to 21-1 overall, 8-0 in conference and have now won 32 consecutive conference games.

“We aren’t going to win many more playing like that,” Baumann said. “Couldn’t make our free throws and got outrebounded by 17.

“You can’t win in this conference, at the regional tournament and certainly at the national tournament if you can’t make free throws. I thought Dian had a good game off the bench and Chandler was big for us tonight and we needed him.”

Odessa College was 20 of 30 from the free throw line, but missed seven of 14 attempts in the final 1:49 of the game.

Jeremiah Cherry led New Mexico JC with a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, the 6-foot-11 freshman doing whatever he wanted in the paint against the smaller Wranglers.

Micah Jones added 11 points for the T-Birds.

One bright spot for Odessa College was its defense, forcing 30 turnovers on the night and that proved to be a huge factor as the Wranglers outscored New Mexico JC 36-5 off turnovers.

Odessa College now will play its next four games on the road, beginning Monday at Clarendon College.

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide