Even with six Eagles scoring in the double-digits, the Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball team failed to finish a late comeback against the University of Texas A&M Commerce on Friday in the Heartland-Lone Star Challenge.
Freshman guard Dorian Lopez was the Eagles’ leading scorer, finishing the game with 18 points and hitting all three of his 3-pointers, while adding eight rebounds and four assists. Sophomore guard Jordan Box put up 16 points, going 4-6 from the 3-point range as the Eagles shot 55 percent, 11-20, from the 3-point range.
The Eagles cut a 16-point deficit in the second half down to just two points before the Lions put together a pair of consecutive 3-pointers to finally pull away and hand Oklahoma Christian its first loss, 97-85.
In the opening minutes, the Eagles led by six at the 16:21 minute mark, 11-5, before the Lions took the lead. Senior center John Moon, who had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Eagles, was sidelined early before halftime after he picked up his third foul with 3:30 remaining in the first half.
By halftime the Eagles closed the gap to just 11 points, 53-42, but after the break Texas A&M Commerce pushed their lead to 69-55. Box led the Eagles on a 14-2 run by hitting two 3-pointers as he brought the Eagles within 71-69 with 8:38 remaining in the game.
“Going into the games this weekend I felt pretty confident that we would come out with two wins,” Box said. “Unfortunately we lost to two good teams, who were solid on both ends of the floor. Those two losses definitely left a bad taste in our mouths, but instead of dwelling on the losses we plan to use that as fuel for the next game and come out and get a win on our home floor.”
With 7:23 left, Box hit another 3-pointer to bring the Eagles within 75-72, but the Lions answered with a pair of 3-pointers and the lead never dipped below six for the remainder of the game.
Oklahoma Christian lost the rebound battle 45-42 but Texas A&M Commerce grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and had 19 more shots than the Eagles throughout the game.
Junior guards Marcus Mathieu and Elijah Strickland each put up 13 points. Mathieu also contributed five rebounds and six assists, while Strickland added six rebounds and two steals. Senior guard Keilan Horton tallied 10 points and Moon coupled his 10 points with nine rebounds and blocked a shot, which extended his consecutive-games with a blocked shot to 54.
The second game of the tournament for the Eagles came against Cameron University, where after multiple comebacks Cameron went on a 14-2 run on their way to a 73-61 win.
The Eagles went 20-54 from the field and 4-23 from the 3-point line, 17.4 percent, compared to Cameron’s 41.9 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from the 3-point range.
Oklahoma Christian held their biggest lead of the night with 12:29 left in the first half after two free throws by Horton, who added 12 points off the bench for the Eagles. They fell behind as Cameron ended the half on a 9-0 run and led 26-25 at halftime.
The Aggies started the second half on a 10-2 run to take 37-27 with 17:18 left to go. The Eagles scored the next seven points to go back up 41-40 after a 14-3 run with 12:31 left in the game.
Moon led Oklahoma Christian with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots as he extended the consecutive games with a block to 55. Lopez had 11 points and eight rebounds and Box contributed 11 points for the Eagles.
Oklahoma Christian will host Barclay University Saturday at 3 p.m.