Stout defense, timely shooting lifts Hutchinson past Odessa, 66-50
LUBBOCK, Texas – Makayla Vannett scored a team-high 18 points, and Hutchinson Community College used a second-quarter surge and tough defense to take control and a strong third quarter to power past Odessa College, 66-50, in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships on Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Dejanae Roebuck added 14 points and six rebounds for the Blue Dragons, who advance to Friday’s 4 p.m. semifinal to face New Mexico Junior College.
“Another really great performance by our ballclub defensively against a very talented Odessa team,” Hutchinson head coach John Ontjes said. “Just watching them on film they have all kinds of weapons, and for the second straight game I think we were fortunate that our opponent didn’t shot the ball particularly well from three. I thought our physicality defensively in the interior was big throughout the game.”
It was the defensive effort by the Blue Dragons that made the difference. Hutchinson held Odessa to almost 20 points under their season average, including host 13.6 percent (3 of 22) from 3-point range, and 35 of the Lady Wranglers’ 50 came from just two players.
“They were really aggressive on defense and crashed the boards all the time which outnumbered us at times,” McDonald said. “They just played honest defense and didn’t cheat any passes or anything.”
On the other end, the Blue Dragons hit 10 of 27 from the 3-point line, including four from Vannett. But more than the amount of 3-pointers the Blue Dragons hit, they seemed to come at the right time, either stopping an Odessa surge or helping extend the lead late.
Tia Bradshaw chipped in 11 points and four rebounds for the Blue Demons.
“(The first-half run) gave us a lot of confidence because once we start scoring baskets we get more confidence and we try to take advantage right away,” Bradshaw said. “Just shooting the ball, we know if we’re not making it we still have to take open shots and get the job done.”
Vannett and Dejanae Roebuck sandwiched 3-pointers around a Vannett layup as part of a 12-2 lead that turned a 40-31 Hutchinson advantage into a 48-31 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter, and the Lady Wranglers could not get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Lemon led the Lady Wrangler with 18 points and McDonald added 17, but no other Odessa player had more than eight.
“Sometimes the other team just plays better, and I thought they did a really good job of defending us, probably as good as anybody has done with the thing we do on offense,” Odessa head coach Ara Baten said. “Their kids just did a good job of making plays on offense. I thought we did a decent job defending them for about the first 20-25 minutes of the game, but we got a little frustrated with our offense and that carried over to our defense and we started letting them get loose and make plays.”
Odessa struggled from the 3-point line in the first half, hitting on just one of 13 attempts from beyond the arc. But the Blue Dragons could not take advantage until late in the half.
With the score tied at 21, Milan Schimmel, Makayla Vannett and Tia Bradshaw all hit 3-pointers in the final 2:21 of the second quarter. That proved to be the difference in the half as the Blue Dragons held a 30-23 lead at the break.
Vannett led Hutchinson with 10 points in the first half while Julan McDonald poured in 11 for the Lady Wranglers, seven of those coming in the first quarter. Odessa shot 33.3 percent (10 of 30) from the field, 9 of 17 from inside the 3-point arc.