Eagles come from behind to beat Odessa

Photo courtesy of Greg Rowland
Photo courtesy of Greg Rowland

PENSACOLA, Fla. (November 27, 2019) – Tallahassee Community College's men's basketball team rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat Odessa (Texas) College, 74-72, on the final day of the Pirate Thanksgiving Classic, hosted by Pensacola State College. 

The win completed a 3-0 week at the Classic for Tallahassee, who wrapped up a stretch of six games in eight days and will head to the Thanksgiving break with a 10-1 record. Equally, if not more, impressive is how the Eagles responded from the disappointment of Saturday's one-point loss at home to Georgia Highlands College, one in which they led by 18 points with just under four minutes remaining. 

"Our guys dug down deep today," said first-year head coach Zach Settembre. "When we were down 11, they never stopped believing we were going to win. 

"This team is committed to our process and winning three games in three days against elite competition shows what we can be down the road." 

In wins over Lamar State (Texas) College-Port Arthur and Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, it was a strong second half performance that propelled the Eagles to victory. On Wednesday, however, Odessa flipped the script, at least initially. 

The Wranglers erased Tallahassee's 34-30 halftime lead and surged to a 56-45 advantage just past the midway point of the second half. That's when the Eagles hit their stride, answering with a 12-0 run to grab a 57-56 lead near the six-minute mark. 

Tallahassee methodically stretched the lead down the stretch but had to survive a harrowing final 60 seconds. The Eagles watched Odessa trim a 10-point lead to two inside of 20 seconds remaining before El Ellis hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead back to four. 

On the ensuing possession, the Eagles were whistled for a foul on a three-point attempt, keeping the Wranglers alive. After hitting the first two shots, Odessa was forced to intentionally miss the third but the ball was batted around as the clock expired. 

Ellis had a monster game for Tallahassee, finishing with a career-high 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor and 9-of-10 from the foul line. 

Kailex Stephens and Jordan Guest joined Ellis in double-figures, with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Tallahassee will return to play on Tuesday when it hosts Coastal Alabama Community College-North at 7:30 p.m.