Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
The Oklahoma Christian University women’s basketball team claimed two crucial road wins last weekend, as well as a successful matchup at home against McMurry University.
On Thursday, Jan. 31 the Lady Eagles traveled to Wichita, Kan. to take on the Newman University Jets for the second time. Previously, at home, the Lady Eagles barely defeated the Jets with a last-second shot made by senior guard Krista Stevens. However, this match-up was a different story.
Oklahoma Christian led nearly the entire game, starting off hot from behind the arc. But after the first few minutes the Lady Eagles’ hot hands turned cold, and they depended on their defense, their heart and their teammates to maintain the lead.
“Although I was struggling offensively, I knew I could count on the other girls to pick me up,” junior Logan McKee said. “Defensively, we were beating them to loose balls, and we were determined to make sure it was in our hands.”
McKee attributed much of the victory over Newman to Stevens, who tallied 11 points, 7 rebounds and five assists for the Lady Eagles.
“Krista Stevens was a huge asset for us in that she was all over the court, diving and making plays,” McKee said.
In addition to Stevens’ 11 points, senior Katy O’Steen added 19 while junior Roz Hamilton put up 15 points and pulled down nine boards. In their 13 point victory (58-45) over the Jets, the Lady Eagles were reminded of how tough their new conference is.
“This conference is really rough, and we have to remember to constantly be strong with the ball and take care of the ball each possession,” Stevens said.
Oklahoma Christian’s strength and focus carried over into their battle against the University of Arkansas- Fort Smith Lions on Saturday, Feb. 2. In double overtime, the Lady Eagles were able to claim the 79-76 victory with the help of McKee’s hot hand from the free-throw line.
Earlier this season the Lady Eagles took on the Lions without their leading scorer Katy O’Steen and barely fell short of victory. Seeking redemption with the help of O’Steen, the Lady Eagles refused to lose to the Lions again.
“For Saturday’s game, I just kept remembering that last meeting we had with them at our house and how we let it slip away,” Stevens said. “I didn’t want to lose to them again.”
“[O’Steen’s] physical play both on defense and offense was paramount as well as an added rebounding presence,” Head women’s basketball coach Stephanie Findley said.
Her rebounding presence was necessary against the Lions’ post players, Katie BenAmor and Porscha Donnerson. Despite the victory, the Lady Eagles were outrebounded, 59-44.
Oklahoma Christian battled the entire game with Arkansas-Fort Smith. The Lady Eagles’ largest lead was only six points with just under 10 minutes to play in regulation. However, their focus and determination made them relentless.
“Coach Findley does a great job of keeping our minds present during battle,” McKee said. “We have learned that this new division and conference is much different than last year. We have had to grow up and get tougher this year, and it has really played in our favor.”
Mental toughness and team growth have panned out to be some of the Lady Eagles’ crucial components while approaching the most important part of the season.
“Determination and positive attitudes, the hustle, desire and focus of the whole team is great right now,” Findley said. “Team chemistry and focus are probably the biggest strengths of the team at the moment, and that is allowing us to execute our game plans very well.”
Oklahoma Christian struggled to make a basket in the first minutes last night against McMurry, trying to get momentum built up. Hamilton forged her way to the rim with 12 minutes left in the half, however, and started an 11-0 scoring run for the Lady Eagles. Aside from a lighthearted moment soon after where a three by Stevens wedged between the rim, Oklahoma Christian was all business as they fought hard in the box to steadily draw away.
McMurry came out swinging in the second half, even drawing ahead briefly 33-32. The Lady Eagles refocused and rallied around Hamilton, who drained key 3-pointers and drew fouls to help take back the lead 41-35. Oklahoma Christian never looked back, sealing another home win 65-54.
The Lady Eagles will seek another victory over St. Edward’s University at home tomorrow, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.