Up by just a single point, with 39 seconds left and the game hanging in the balance, Chinna Fair never stopped to worry.
As South Plains College inbounded the ball and went on the attack, Fair was at ease.
“We trust each other,” she explained later.
“All you’ve got to do is trust each other, and we can pull it off.”
On the game-deciding sequence, as the visitors drove toward the key, the Odessa College defense poked the ball free and Fair was there to corral the steal in the paint, then push up an outlet pass toward a game-sealing score on the other end as the Odessa College women’s basketball team escaped with a 60-57 win over South Plains College on Monday night in the OC Sports Center.
Odessa College battled back from a first-half deficit to push out in front in the second half, then clamped down on South Plains’ big opportunity in the final minute to win.
“We found a way,” Odessa College head coach Ara Baten said after the victory. “We survived.”
Fair grabbed hold of that steal as Odessa College held a slim 58-57 lead in the final minute, then dribbled free of the Lady Texans crashing to her, before looking up to pass to a fast-break that led to Shannon Dozier’s basket to put Odessa College up three points with just seconds left to play, and give the game its final score.
Dozier scored a team-high 14 points and Fair added another 12. Odessa College clamped down on South Plains’ efforts to scramble in the ensuing final moments to win and push to 3-4 in WJCAC play.
“It feels pretty good,” Fair said after the win. “We started out kind of slow, but we just had to work our way back in the game.”
South Plains led 15-7 at the end of the first quarter, after Odessa College jumped out to a 7-0 lead, then fell stagnant as the visitors took control. The Lady Wranglers went scoreless over the last six minutes of the first quarter.
But Odessa College shook it off. Amanda Soderqvist knocked down a 3-pointer in the opening moments of the second quarter, and the Lady Wranglers went on to outscore the Lady Texans 19-12 in that frame, to make it a one-point game at the half as South Plains led 27-26.
Both teams battled back and forth in the second half, with the Lady Wranglers catching hot and falling cold in a performance that could in some encapsulate their struggles this January.
Odessa College opened the season 11-3 overall in November and December. The Lady Wranglers then lost three of four during a stretch in January, before then upsetting previously unbeaten and second-ranked New Mexico Junior College 66-57 last Thursday.
Monday’s win marked the Lady Wranglers’ second straight, and pushed them to 15-7 overall and 3-4 in the WJCAC.
“I didn’t do a very good job of managing the game, especially in the first half,” Baten said of Monday’s game. “If I can clean up some things on my end, and give our people a better chance, then we should be better. I’ve got to make some better decisions.”
Odessa College held a six-point lead in the late stages at 58-52, but back-to-back scores by visiting South Plains made it a one-point game at 58-57 with just more than a minute left.
South Plains tightened up to force an Odessa College shot clock violation to take possession with 39 seconds left, but that’s when Fair came away with her steal.
The Lady Texans immediately hounded her to try and get the ball back, and as they did, Fair managed to dribble her way free of them, then find teammates open up-court, including Dozier who finished for the score in transition.
“I had to get it out,” Fair said of that sequence, in which the Lady Texans crashed around her.
“‘Somebody’s open,’” Dozier chimed in with a smile.
That stop, along with another in the final seconds and a miss on a last-gasp 3-pointer from South Plains which fell wide, sealed the victory for a Lady Wranglers team that entered especially hungry to win a second straight to stay on track.
“We played really well defensively at the end of the game,” Baten said. “We did some things different. We played four guards a lot more than we normally do.
“I mean, we just had to survive. And we did. We’re clawing our way back in.”
SOUTH PLAINS COLLEGE (14-9 overall, 1-6 WJCAC)
Mikayla Kuehne 7-14 9-11 27, Christina Baker 6-9 0-2 12, La’Praisjah Johnson 4-8 1-2 9, Gabbie Green 2-12 3-4 8, Chantel Govan 0-8 1-2 1, Maddie Dorris 0-4 0-0 0, Haleigh Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Ravae Payne 0-0 0-0 0, Alexis Popham 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-56 24-21 57.
ODESSA COLLEGE (15-7, 3-4)
Shannon Dozier 5-11 2-2 14, Chinna Fair 5-10 2-3 12, Amanda Soderqvist 4-7 0-0 11, Danyael Goodhope 4-8 1-6 11, Tanaka Gapare 3-8 0-0 6, Kassie Ybarra 1-3 0-0 3, Leticia Soares 1-3 0-2 2, Wytalla Motta 0-0 1-2 1, Aaliyah Walker 0-0 0-0 0, Cameryn Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Sydni Tears 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 6-15 60.
South Plains College 15 12 6 24 — 57
Odessa College…….. 7.. 19 13 21 — 60
3-Point goals — South Plains College 5-21 (Mikayla Kuehne 4-8, Gabbie Green 1-5, La’Praisjah Johnson 0-1, Maddie Dorris 0-1, Chantel Govan 0-6), Odessa College 8-21 (Amanda Soderqvist 3-4, Danyael Goodhope 2-2, Shannon Dozier 2-7, Kassie Ybarra 1-3, Wytalla Motta 0-2, Chinna Fair 0-3). Total fouls — South Plains College 15, Odessa College 19. Fouled out — South Plains College: La’Praisjah Johnson. Technical fouls — Odessa College: Leticia Soares, Team. Rebounds — South Plains College 34 (La’Praisjah Johnson 7, Mikayla Kuehne 7), Odessa College 35 (Tanaka Gapare 8). Assists — South Plains College 13 (Chantel Govan 6), Odessa College 19 (Danyael Goodhope 3).