COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Wranglers rally at NJCAA Men’s DI National tournament

HUTCHINSON, KAN. It was anything but easy for the Odessa College men’s basketball team in its first game of the 2022 NJCAA Division I Men’s National Championship tournament.

That might be just what the Wranglers needed.

Daniss Jenkins scored a game-high 18 points to lead No. 8 seed Odessa College to a 89-82 victory against No. 9 seed Shelton State Community College in a Round of 16 game Tuesday at Hutch Arena.

The victory moves the Wranglers (28-6) into the Elite Eight for the second time in the past four seasons under head coach Kris Baumann.

They will face top seed Salt Lake Community College, a three-point (86-83) winner against Moberly Area, at noon on Thursday in Hutch Arena.

Garfield Turner finished with 15 points, Anthony Marshall added 14, Dontrell Hewlett chipped in 12 and Darrell Armstrong contributed 11 to the victory.

Jaykwon Walton scored a team-high 16 for the Bucs (30-5), with Thaddeus Williams adding 15 and Jordan Chatman and Andres Burney each finishing with 14.

Shelton State, which played a first-round game Monday, took control early in the game, jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first half and continually building on that until it held an 11-point cushion on the Wranglers (34-23) with 6:07 remaining to play in the first half.

Odessa College then increased its defensive pressure the length of the court to force some turnovers that, combined with misses by the Bucs from long distance, allowed the Wranglers to erase the deficit with a 19-8 run.

Turner capped the first-half turnaround with a field goal with 19 seconds remaining to level things (42-42).

The Wranglers took their first lead of the game (47-44) on an Armstrong 3-pointer, but were not able to breathe easy as the Bucs briefly retook the lead (51-50) before a Marshall three-point play put Odessa College in front (53-51) with 14:29 remaining to play.

Shelton State tied the game twice (59-59, 66-66) but could not edge past the Wranglers, who took the lead for good (68-66) on a Jenkins’ jump shot with 6:59 remaining to play.