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0 Friday, December 07, 2012

Lady Eagles excel individually, fall on road

by Sarah Peoples

The Oklahoma Christian University Lady Eagles kicked off their first game in a series of three Thursday, Nov. 29.

They faced their first Heartland Conference rival along with two other tough opponents. The Lady Eagles ended the series with a 1-2 record.

The Lady Eagles faced Panhandle State for their first matchup, and with the help of a changed strategy were able to handle the Aggies. After halftime the decision was made to transfer into a half-court style press, instead of the usual up-tempo style played by the Lady Eagles. Panhandle was the first Heartland rival the Lady Eagles had faced and they proved their ability to hold their own in the conference by winning the game 62-56.

“While each of us have different strengths and abilities, some circumstances call for certain strengths and abilities,” sophomore Logan McKee said. “Coach Findley recognized who should be on the floor during the OPSU game, and acted accordingly.  Those who were on the floor did what it took to get the job done, and we experienced success.  Each day is a chance for someone else to shine, and each day different people are able to step up.  We all realize that, and that is why we are such a close-knit group.”

After losing three games in a row, Oklahoma Christian’s veterans stepped up to the challenge of breaking the streak. Seniors Katy O’Steen and Roz Hamilton led in scoring and senior Krista Stevens sealed the win in the last minutes with two consecutive three-point shots. O’Steen ended the game with 17 points, Hamilton and Stevens contributed 11 and McKee and freshman Daisha Gonzaque each had five.

“Katy and Roz stood out inside, Katy in the first half and then Roz in the second, and Krista Stevens hit a couple of big threes at the end to kind of seal it for us,” Women’s Basketball Head Coach Stephanie Findley said.

Stevens returned this season after sitting out a year due to injury, and was able to shine during the OPSU game.

“Krista was able to handle the ball under pressure and knock down shots when we needed them,” McKee said. “She is a very experienced player, and she was a great leader for us during that game.”

Oklahoma Christian faced Lubbock Christian for the second time in one week on Friday, Nov. 30, and failed to come out with the win. The leading team in the NAIA played up to their reputation and came out ahead, 104-77.

“If we took away one aspect of their game, they adjusted and other players stepped up,” Hamilton said. “They are loaded with really good players”

LCU shot 54.9 percent and were undefeated when the Lady Eagles faced them, exhausted from a game just less than a day before.

“They’re balanced, they are very good in the post and have great shooters on the perimeter; you can’t focus on just one part of their game,” Findley said.

Despite the loss, freshman Sydney Hill achieved a career high 15 points. O’Steen and Hamilton each scored 12 points, and freshman Aisha Martin also added her career high of 11 points.

“Aisha had a really good weekend,” Findley said. “She shot the ball well and made some good plays on defense. She’s really starting to develop her game to the college level.”

Oklahoma Christian finished up the three-day road-trip with Texas-Permian Basin, another new Heartland conference rival. After a back-and-forth battle leading to an upset in overtime, UTPB pulled out the win 79-75.

“We can’t let girls on their team get double-digit rebounds,” Hamilton said. “That’s what decided the game, us getting outrebounded.”
The overtime battle was an extreme fight from both sides, but three UTPB players were responsible for almost all of the team’s points and success.

Oklahoma Christian improved after the half and went so far as to lead UTPB at one point before they gained momentum again and tied the game. Gonsaque missed a three with ten seconds left to push the game into overtime. In overtime, the Lady Eagles led by three but ultimtely lost ground to UTPB

Oklahoma Christian was only able to finish 38 percent from the field and only 17.9 percent from the three-point line. O’Steen finished the game with 15 points, Hill had 14, Hamilton ended with 11, sophomore Skyler Newberry and junior Kaitlyn Morris both recorded eight and Gonzaque had seven.

“I thought this was a game we could win, we needed to win,” Findley said. “We pared it down in the second half with our rotation to try and keep the people we felt that were having a good game in the game for that whole half.”

After a long and exhausting road trip the Lady Eagles will returned home yesterday for a game against former NAIA rival, Mid-America Christian University.

O’Steen tallied a career high 27 points in the game against Mid-America Christian Thursday night. Despite this solid birthday performance from O’Steen, however, the Lady Eagles couldn’t close the game and fell 72-71.

Though Oklahoma Christian went only 9-of-20 from the free-throw line—a far cry from their usual on-point performance—the Lady Eagles looked to surge back in the final minutes of the game, leading 69-65. After O’Steen hit a jumper to go up 71-68, the Lady Eagles couldn’t find their touch.

During a scuffle for a rebound shortly after, senior Krista Stevens took an elbow opening a gash above her right eye. No foul was called on the play and as Stevens attempted to stem the flow of blood, MACU took the ball to the other end, drawing a foul from O’Steen. MACU made both free throws; the game was delayed as Stevens
was escorted off and the blood cleaned up.

MACU held the Lady Eagles at bay and the Lady Eagles were unable to capitalize. O’Steen alone broke double figures for the Eagles; Stevens scored nine points and sophomore Logan McKee made eight.

The Lady Eagles, now 4-6, face longtime rival Southern Nazarene tomorrow night at home. Tip off is at 5:30 in the evening.

Photo by: Henoc Kivuye

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