Home opener, Dan Hays return and two Eagle losses

The crowd at the Eagles and Lady Eagles home opener was massive. Online photo.

The crowd at the Eagles and Lady Eagles home opener was massive. Online photo.

With less than five minutes on the clock in the second half, senior Elijah Strickland drained three straight three-pointers to pull the Oklahoma Christian University’s men’s basketball team within 11 points, but the Eagles were unable to overcome the deficit in an 85–74 loss to the University of Central Oklahoma Nov. 14.

The Eagles returned home after opening the season with two away games. Also returning to the Nest, former Head Coach Dan Hays sat on the visitor’s bench on the sideline of a court bearing his name.

Sophomore Will Lienhard said the team may have tried too hard to win because of the pressure stemming from playing against Hays.

“I think it’s definitely something you just can’t not notice or understand, but I don’t know if it added more pressure or if it was just like what made us almost try too hard to win just because of that fact,” Lienhard said. “Obviously, he had a great coaching career here, but I like Coach Cole a lot. He’s a good coach, and I think he’s going to have a lot of success this year, too.”

The Eagles started the game with a 7–2 run over the Bronchos and lead at the 11:23 mark, 19–16, after a three-pointer by Strickland. Then, for six minutes, the Eagles went scoreless and allowed Central Oklahoma to build a double-digit lead, 41–29, going into the halftime break.

Central Oklahoma’s biggest lead of the game came at the 10:55 mark in the second half when the Bronchos were up by 23 points.

Then, Strickland began a comeback for the Eagles, hitting three three-pointers, to bring the score to 79–68 with 1:58 left on the clock.

With 51 seconds remaining in the game, senior Miroslav Jaksic scored to cut the lead to nine, 79–70, but the Eagles could not limit the Bronchos scoring.

“The first half, we started off strong and then we kind of went away,” Leinhard said. “We waited until too late to realize that we could come back. Then, it was like we were making plays and doing well, but we could only get within like nine because we were down by so much. I think it was mental mistakes over and over again and just things we got to learn on. Luckily, it’s still early.”

Strickland led the Eagles with a career-high 26 points, Jaksic recorded 18 points and junior Jordan Box finished with 14.

In their home opener against Central Oklahoma, the Lady Eagles lost to the Lady Bronchos 67–61.

Central Oklahoma led by as much as 17 points in the second half. The Lady Eagles got within two points with 3:55 left on the clock, after two free throws by junior Audrey Hayes.

With time running out, the Lady Eagles committed eight fouls in the final three minutes of play, and the Lady Bronchos shot 79 percent from the free-throw line in the second half to maintain the lead.

Despite Central Oklahoma having the advantage from the free-throw line, the Lady Eagles outrebounded the Lady Bronchos 27–18 in the second half.

Junior Carolyne Lawley and freshman Delyssa Miller both led Oklahoma Christian with 11 points, and junior Addy Clift added 10 points for the Lady Eagles.

The Eagles will travel to Chickasha, OK to play the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Nov. 21. The Lady Eagles will not play until Nov. 24 when they travel to San Angelo, TX to play Texas A&M University–Kingsville at 1:30 p.m.

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