MIDLAND Lala Niankan gave the Odessa College women’s basketball team a late spark against Hill College Thursday, but it wasn’t enough to help the Lady Wranglers avoid their first loss of the season.
Hill College defeated Odessa College 74-63 in their first game of the WNIT Tournament at the Chaparral Center.
Odessa College coach Franqua Bedell said a lack of consistency hurt his team throughout the contest, especially in the first half.
“I feel like we weren’t locked in like we needed to be defensively,” Bedell said. “Offensively sometimes it might be a slow start, but defensively we pretty much let them do whatever they wanted.”
The head coach added that Hill College was able to control the tempo and impose its will with the way it was running its offense.
Odessa College (2-1) started the game with the intention of finding the open shooter closest to the basket, but Hill College would adjust quickly to seal off any scoring opportunities.
The Lady Rebels used their strong defensive presence to take an early lead that the Lady Wranglers had to slowly erase.
Niankan tried to get Odessa College back into the game, hitting a midrange jumper to cut the Lady Rebels’ lead to 7-6 about six minutes into the first quarter.
Hill College started finding a scoring rhythm to close out the first period, with Andreea Mancha scoring a 3-pointer to head into the second quarter with a 20-10 lead.
The Lady Wranglers were outscored 25-16 in the second period, giving Hill College a 19-point lead at halftime.
Hill College stayed in control for most of the third quarter, finding multiple open 3-pointers to widen their advantage any time Odessa College would score.
It wasn’t until the final minute of the period that the Lady Wranglers closed the gap, with Stephanie Hubbard scoring a layup that was quickly followed up by another score from Niankan.
The last basket of the third quarter came after Niankan, cutting Hill College’s lead to 60-50.
Niankan scored four straight points to start the final period to cut the deficit to six points.
“If she’s able to do that for the whole game at a high level, she will be an All-American,” Bedell said of Niankan. “You’ve got to be able to do that for four quarters, not just a half.”
That wouldn’t be enough, as the Lady Rebels outscored Odessa College 14-13 in the fourth quarter to close out the win.
Niankan led all scorers with 20 points, while Dai paced the Lady Wranglers with seven rebounds.
Bedell went through multiple rotations throughout the game, something he said he’ll continue doing until the team can find a consistent level of play.
He said Odessa College showed flashes of being a strong team and flashes of confusion at times on the court and that’s something that will get fixed with more practice time.
“My biggest scare is we’re on a roller coaster,” Bedell said. “We come in to practice one day and we look really good, the next day we don’t look like we know what we’re doing.
“To be nationally ranked and beat good teams night in and night out, there’s got to be a level of consistent intensity and a high level of consistent effort that matches what the outcome is going to be.”
The Lady Wranglers continue WNIT Tournament play against Trinity Valley Community College at 5 p.m. Friday at the Chaparral Center.
>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya
Hill College 74, Odessa College 63
Hill College (4-2)
Alayia Francis 0-0 0-0 0, Tyquanna Ross 5-14 6-11 16, Skye Thomas 0-3 0-0 0, Laylah Davis 6-12 1-2 16, Brandalyn Rice 2-7 2-3 6, Andreea Mancha 1-3 5-6 8, Jada Williams 4-9 0-0 11, Shanna Petty 2-5 0-0 6, Kamill Rangle 0-2 0-0 0, Sydney Nunley 4-9 0-2 8, Mia Monroe 0-0 0-0 0, Kaiden Lemaire 1-5 1-2 3. Totals 25-69 15-26 74.
Odessa College (2-1)
Jessie Dai 3-8 0-0 8, Nahawa Diarra Berthe 2-7 1-2 6, Lala Niankan 7-14 6-6 20, Drea Betts 1-9 0-0 3, Taya Davis 2-5 1-2 5, Chloe Dallas 2-8 2-3 6, Carlota Alfaro Marti 0-4 0-0 0, Stephanie Hubbard 4-6 0-0 8, Kheeauna Lide 1-2 1-2 3, Marchelle Bowden 2-4 0-0 4, Valeria Barrett 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 24-70 11-15 63.
Hill College…………. 20.. 25 15 14 — 74
Odessa College…… 10.. 16 24 13 — 63
3-Point goals — Hill College 9-28 (Ross 0-1, Thomas 0-3, Davis 3-7, Mancha 1-3, Williams 3-7, Petty 2-4, Nunley 0-2, Lemaire 0-1), Odessa College 4-25 (Dai 2-5, Berthe 1-2, Niankan 0-3, Betts 1-7, Dallas 0-3, Marti 0-2, Barrett 0-3). Total fouls — Odessa College 23, Hill College 13. Fouled out — Odessa College (Davis). Technical fouls — None. Rebounds — Hill College 45 (Davis, Rice 7), Odessa College 39 (Dai 7). Assists — Hill College 14 (Mancha 5), Odessa College 10 (Berthe 4).