MIDLAND The Odessa College Wranglers again had to overcome a sluggish first half to earn a victory in WJCAC men’s basketball action, but once again were able to do so.
The Wranglers came back from a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat shorthanded Midland College 57-48 on Thursday night at the Chaparral Center, maintaining a tie for first place in the conference standings.
“We’re still kind of rusty on the offensive end a little bit, but I thought a lot of it had to do with (Midland College),” Wranglers coach Kris Baumann said. “I thought they had a terrific game plan. I thought they defended us really well.
“They’re limited in numbers (suiting up just seven players) and I thought they got tired. I thought if we could keep the pressure on them and keep the game going fast — we wanted to go up-tempo — I thought we’d have a chance to wear them down.”
After shooting 31.8 percent (7 of 22) in the first half, Odessa College made half its shots (14 of 28) in the second. James Reese led the Wranglers (14-3 overall, 3-0 WJCAC) with 21 points. Jawaun Daniels added 15 points and six rebounds.
“I feel good coming into the game every time because my teammates are there for me,” Reese said. “Coach puts us in good position to win games. He tells us not to panic at halftime every time we’re down, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Midland College (6-11, 1-3) was led by Elijah Lufile with 14 points and seven rebounds with Eman Eman scoring 12 points, all on 3-pointers.
The Chaparrals jumped out to an early 11-3 lead as Odessa College struggled offensively. The Wranglers got within four points on four occasions before Midland College closed the half with an 8-3 spurt, taking a 28-19 halftime lead on Eman’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
Odessa College wasted no time in charging back, opening the second half with an 11-0 run in the first 2:25 to take a 30-28 lead on Jonas Parker’s putback. The next 10 minutes saw four more lead changes and three ties before the Wranglers finally took control.
Dimon Carrigan put Odessa College in front to stay at 43-42 with 7:19 remaining, but the Chaps stubbornly stayed within three points until the final minutes. Daniels’ basket with 2:14 to go made it 49-45 and started a 10-3 closing run for the Wranglers,
Baumann said a big difference for Odessa College was committing fewer mistakes in the second half.
“We were our own worst enemy,” he said. “We turned it over 13 times in the first half, which is too many. We just never really got in sync.
“In the second half, I thought the way we came out got us back in the game and got us some confidence. From there, I think we settled in a little