While most of the student body traveled home to enjoy their Christmas break, the Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball team played seven games over the break, going 3-4.
The Eagles faced Central Christian University on Dec. 10, at which senior guard Keilan Horton posted a career-high 23 points, shooting 8-15 overall and 3-6 from behind the 3-point arc, along with four assists and steals to lead Oklahoma Christian to an 81-67 victory in the Nest.
Senior John Moon scored 26 points on 12-16 shooting to compliment his 15 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals. Horton and Moon combined for over half of Oklahoma Christian’s points. ‘
Horton scored eight of the Eagles’ first 11 points in the first three-minutes of play and Oklahoma Christian went on a 10-0 run to take the lead 33-17. At the half, Oklahoma Christian led 44-27 and led by as many as 22 points.
Junior Elijah Strickland was the only other Eagle in double-figure scoring with 11 points.
The Eagles then opened Heartland Conference play by traveling to Goodwell, OK, to face off against Oklahoma Panhandle State University on Dec. 17.
In the final eight minutes, Oklahoma Christian rallied from an eight-point deficit after blowing a 14-point lead in the first-half. Moon spent long stretches of the game on the bench due to foul trouble early in the game. He scored 10 of his 15 points in the last nine minutes of the game to help push the Eagles to a victory.
Panhandle State led 60-54 with just under 10 minutes left in the game before Moon came off the bench and poured in six straight points, four from the free-throw line, to tie it up. Senior Luis Lopez gave the Eagles their first lead since losing it earlier in the period with a 3-pointer with 7:04 remaining 63-62.
After making a pair of defensive stops, Moon put in a pair of free throws with 33.1 seconds left to give the Eagles with lead at 79-73. After two more empty Panhandle State possessions, Moon knocked down two free throws with 33.1 seconds left to put the Eagles up 79-73.
Oklahoma Christian took the win in the last 15 seconds behind freshman Dorian Lopez’s rebound, free throws and steal, which closed out the game 80-76.
Facing a Newman University team which shot 57.7 percent from the 3-point line, the Eagles dropped their next conference matchup 86-71 on Dec. 19.
Strickland, Horton and Moon combined for 36 of the Eagles’ 71 points, and only three other players scored for Oklahoma Christian in the game.
In the first seven minutes the Eagles took an early 15-5 lead before the Jets made two 3-pointers in a 17-4 run to take the lead and added five more before the end of the first half.
Horton, who scored 23 points on 9-18 shooting, helped Oklahoma Christian close the 41-32 gap after has they brought it back within one point, 52-51, with 13:48 remaining in the game. The Jets nailed three more 3-pointers to fuel a 16-2 run that ran to the seven-minute mark with a 71-56 lead.
The Eagles came back within single digits, 76-69, with 2:40 left on the clock, off a tap in from Moon, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Newman finished the game on a 10-2 run.
This game moved Moon into 17th place on the Eagles’ career scoring list with 1,586 points.
Following the loss to Newman, Oklahoma Christian faced off against crosstown rival in the University of Central Oklahoma on Dec. 29, where it took its first win in the now-annual game in four years 76-63.
Oklahoma Christian led for most the game and shot 51 percent from the field while committing 12 turnovers.
In the opening minutes, the Bronchos held their biggest lead 9-4 until the Eagles and took the lead 18-17. They remained in the lead for the rest of the half and went into the break leading 31-30.
Early in the second half both teams traded the lead until Strickland scored eight straight points to pull away from the tied score, 47-39, with 14 minutes left. After another Central Oklahoma rally, the Eagles went on an 8-2 run to build the lead back to eight points.
With 6:52 remaining in the game, Central Oklahoma pulled the game back within 62-56, but Horton answered with both a 3-pointer and a 3-point play to push the lead to 68-56. The Eagles closed the game going 6-8 from the charity stripe.
Against St. Edward’s University on Dec. 31, the Eagles led the game for all but 95 seconds until a last-second 3-pointer put the Hilltoppers ahead with 10 seconds left as the Eagles fell 77-76.
Despite shooting 50.9 percent, 27-53, from the field and 55.6 percent, 10-18, from the 3-point arc, the Eagles also recorded 18 turnovers, while forcing just seven from St. Edward’s.
Horton led the Eagles with 23 points and shot 5-8 from 3-point range, with four of those 3-pointers coming in the first eight minutes. Strickland added two more 3-pointers as he scored 16 points.
Moon gave Oklahoma Christian a 36-25 lead with five-minutes left before the Hilltoppers rattled off 12 straight points to pull it back within 38-37 going into the half.
The game was tied 54-54 with 12 minutes remaining and again 63-63 with 7:17 left. The Eagles took a 72-68 on Horton’s free throws nearing the 3-minute mark. St. Edward’s tied the game again 74-74 with 1:02 on the clock.
The Eagles took one more lead, 76-74, after two free throws from junior Marcus Mathieu before the Hilltoppers got an open 3-pointer from the right wing to go in and Strickland’s missed game winner.
Moon had nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Dorian Lopez added 13 points and seven rebounds for Oklahoma Christian.
The Eagles had a late scoring drought in the second half, which allowed Texas A&M International University to surge ahead and hold on for the 75-70 win in the Nest on Jan. 5.
Despite Horton’s season-high 28 points on 7-13 shooting, who was named Heartland Conference player of the week, the Eagles were unable to hold on to their late lead. Horton has scored 20 or more points in six straight games and now leads the conference in scoring.
At halftime, the Eagles led 52-47 after a 3-point play from Moon at the 10:56 mark. Oklahoma Christian then failed to score another basket until the 5:24 mark, allowing the Dustdevils to go on a 15-1 run to take the 62-53 lead. Oklahoma Christian came no closer than five points for the remainder of the game.
Strickland put 18 points up for the Eagles while Moon added 11 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot, extending his streak with at least one block to 65 straight games.
In the final game of the break, the Eagles failed to stop Heartland Conference rival St. Mary’s University in a 66-63 loss in the Nest on Jan 7.
Horton scored 27 points in his seventh straight game of 20 or more points. He missed two opportunities to score in the last 14 seconds of regulation as he failed to convert a contested layup and a 3-point buzzer beater.
Horton hit three 3-pointers in a 71-second span in the first half to give the Eagles an 18-17 lead and the game was tied 30-30 at halftime. A 3-pointer by Lopez put Oklahoma Christian up 40-35 with 15:23 left, but a 9-1 run by St. Mary’s put the Rattlers ahead for the remainder of the game.
The Rattlers led 64-59 with 1:25 left but a put-back basket by freshman Ivor Baric with 1:15 left and two free throws by Mathieu with 21.5 seconds left pulled the Eagles within 64-63.
Moon joined Horton in double figures in scoring for 12 points, raising his career total to 1,632 points and moving him into 15th place on Oklahoma Christian’s career scoring list.
The Eagles will travel to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith on Thursday to face the Lions at 7:30 p.m.
Statistics provided by the Oklahoma Christian University Sports Information office.