JASON FARMER NEWS-SUN
January 25, 2019
JASON FARMER/NEWS-SUN New Mexico Junior College freshman Clay Strasner brings the ball up the middle late in the first half of the T-Birds game against Odessa College Thursday night in Caster Activity Center.
Playing with a short roster, the New Mexico Junior College men's basketball team held its own and then some Thursday night as the Thunderbirds shocked No 15 ranked Odessa College in Caster Activity Center as the home team beat Wranglers 68-66.
"We only had seven guys tonight, but you have got to play the hand you are dealt," NMJC coach Luke Adams said. "Our guys did that tonight."
Trailing 66-65 with 2.5 seconds left in the game, NMJC had the ball on its end of the court. Hobbs graduate Clay Strasner put the ball in play, sending it to Malik Mooving and the sophomore hit a three-pointer to win the game.
"I thought there would be a player on Gideon (George)," Adams said. "He was right here on the wing and I had Darnell (Rogers) as a decoy on the other side, so it worked out well. … It ended up working perfectly. That was a big time pass. I trust Clay with the ball. Anytime we are throwing the ball in, he is doing it."
Early in the game, Odessa College got the scoring started with a free throw nearly one minute into the game, but from that point forward, there would be five ties and 13 different lead changes in the first half. At halftime, NMJC held a four-point lead, 33-29. The T-Birds trailed by as many as six points in the first quarter.
Mooving carried NMJC in the first half as he had 17 points, including a buzzer-beating three from nearly half court to end the first half.
One of the biggest things the T-Birds coach was pleased with was that NMJC committed only nine turnovers in the game.
"Our goal every game is to get 10 turnovers or less," Adams said. "We had nine today and I can't tell you the last time that happened. It has been a while."
With the win, NMJC has now won back-to-back games and improves to 4-3 in Western Junior College Athletic Conference play and moves to 15-6 overall. Next up for the T-Birds is a home game against Midland College on Monday night at 7:30 p.m.