In the first game back from winter break, the Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball team beat the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith —which was ranked fourth in the NCAA Division II coaches poll—62–58 Jan. 4 in a Heartland Conference matchup.
The Eagles handed the Lions their first loss of the season despite shooting just 2-of-20 from three-point range and only 50 percent from the free throw line.
Senior Elijah Strickland led the team in scoring with 14 points and added five rebounds in 38 minutes, even after going 0–7 from the behind the three-point line.
Senior Miroslav Jaksic tied the game up at 56 in the final five minutes of the game before junior Roderick Smith gave Oklahoma Christian the lead 58–56 with 3:35 to go.
Jaksic finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds in only 20 minutes of play and Smith had 12 points in 31 minutes.
Junior Jordan Box was the fourth Eagle in double figures with 11 points off the bench.
Strickland made a game-clinching steal with 4.7 seconds left and made one of his two free throws to put the Eagles up by two possessions 62–58. This would be the final points of the game to give the Eagles the four-point victory.
Oklahoma Christian outrebounded the Lions 46–40 on the game.
Following their surprise victory against Arkansas–Fort Smith, the Eagles took on St. Edwards University, another Heartland Conference opponent, and fell 85–81 after coming back from 10 points down in the final four minutes.
Oklahoma Christian could not defend the three-point shot in the second half, allowing the Hilltoppers to go 8-of-11 from behind the three-point arc.
Smith led all scorers with 19 points and added 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Strickland hit two three-pointers in the final two minutes and a jump shot from senior Abel Rodriguez tied the game up at 81 with 57 seconds left in the game.
Strickland had 15 points, including three three-pointers and eight rebounds.
Junior Charles Shaw also had 15 points, junior Will Lienhard had 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks and Box had 10 points.
The Eagles missed three shots in the closing seconds of the game between foul shots for St. Edwards’ players that put the game out of reach.
For the Lady Eagles, Arkansas–Fort Smith outscored them in all four quarters as they fell 90–65 Jan. 4.
There were only two lead changes throughout the game, which happened in the first quarter, as the Lions led early and held the lead to the end.
Oklahoma Christian turned the ball over 17 times, allowing 18 points off turnovers and their bench was outscored 48–18.
Junior Addy Clift finished with 15 points on 4-of-19 shooting and freshman Maddison Collyer added 11 points. They were the only two Lady Eagles to reach double figures.
Following their 25-point loss, the Lady Eagles outscored St. Edwards 29–23 in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to come back as they dropped another conference game, 80–77 Jan. 6.
Collyer posted 20 points and had four steals against the Hilltoppers.
Freshman Katie Mayo also scored 20 points to go with five rebounds, and freshman Delyssa Miller added 10 points and six boards off the bench.
Oklahoma Christian scored 23 points off turnovers and outrebounded the Hilltoppers 32–31.
Miller grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to bring the Lady Eagles within three points with 16 seconds left in the game, 78–75, and Clift hit two free throws with six seconds on the clock to bring the score to 79–77.
Following a free throw made by St. Edwards, sophomore Megan Shelton shot a contested three-pointer from 30-feet, which fell short as time expired.
Both teams will travel to Laredo, TX to play against Texas A&M International University. The Lady Eagles tip off at 5:30 p.m. and the men play at 7:30 p.m.