Eagles fall to UAFS on senior day

The seniors on the basketball team played their final game at the Nest on Saturday. Photo by Allyson Hazelrigg.

The seniors on the basketball team played their final game at the Nest on Saturday. Photo by Allyson Hazelrigg.

After playing a full game, the Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball team could not keep the pace in overtime as they fell 98-94 to Rogers State University on Thursday night in the Nest.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Eagles, while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from behind the 3-point arc. Senior Keilan Horton led with 23 points and five rebounds.

Oklahoma Christian outrebounded the Hillcats 34-31, but the 20 turnovers negated its advantage and gave the Hillcats an opening to score in the fast break.

Neither team led by more than seven points and the lead changed between the two teams 15 times over the course of the game.

Senior John Moon sent the game into overtime with a last-second shot, but once the extra time began, the Eagles could not hold on to the lead.

“We have been getting better as a team,” Moon said. “Even though the win-loss record doesn’t show it, we have all come together and made it our goal to play hard every night. We just have to make the tough plays we have not made in the past.”

Moon had 12 points, six rebounds, two steals and tied a career high with five blocks. With those five blocks, Moon broke former Eagle Micah Miles’ record for career blocks at a total of 232 blocks, which is also the Heartland Conference record.

“In each game and each practice we improve,” Moon said. “I want my last games to show what we as a team can do as we reach the end.”

Freshman Dorian Lopez added 21 points, shooting 4-6 from the 3-point range along with seven rebounds and two steals. Junior Elijah Strickland put up 17 points and six rebounds, while junior Marcus Mathieu had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists.

In Saturday’s game against the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, the Eagles honored their four senior players in the final home game of their collegiate careers.

Alongside Moon and Horton, seniors Zach Norris and Luis Lopez started in their last game in the Nest. This was the first start of Lopez’s four-year career.

Moon had 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in his final game on campus, which ended in a 70-63 loss.

The Eagles shot 43.3 percent from the field, but only 22.7 percent from the 3-point line during the game. They improved their assist-to-turnover ratio, giving up the ball eight times in comparison to assisting nine times throughout the night.

With 10 minutes remaining in the game, Oklahoma Christian managed to pull the game within a single possession, 40-38, before the Lions rattled off a 16-2 run to lead 54-44 with 6:32 left to play. The Eagles managed to comeback within 66-63 with 24 seconds on the clock.

Arkansas-Fort Smith’s Seth Youngblood put the game away in the last 16 seconds by going 4-4 from the free-throw line, knocking Oklahoma Christian out of competition for the final spot in the Heartland Conference postseason tournament.

Mathieu put up 16 points and Lopez had 11 in their roles off of the bench.

“This is more bitter than sweet for me,” Moon said. “To see all my work and things I have put in for four years, and to see it all come to an end is tough and kind of sad. I know that there is more coming, but it is tough to see these good times come to an end.”

The Eagles will play again on Thursday against Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, TX. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.

Statistics provided by the Oklahoma Christian University Sports Information office.

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