Lady Eagles go 5-3 over holiday break

Over Thanksgiving break, both Oklahoma Christian basketball teams played. #21 McKenzie Stafford prepares to throw the ball into play. Photo by Jenny Rigney.

Over Thanksgiving break, both Oklahoma Christian basketball teams played. #21 McKenzie Stafford prepares to throw the ball into play. Photo by Jenny Rigney.

While students studied for finals, packed their bags and headed home for the holidays, the Oklahoma Christian University women’s basketball team continued its season into 2017, going 5-3 and 3-2 in Heartland Conference play over Christmas break.

In Oklahoma Christian’s 94-77 win over Southwestern Oklahoma State University on Dec. 8, four Lady Eagles finished the game in double-digits, including freshman guard Megan Shelton off the bench.

The Lady Eagles found themselves down 44-39 at halftime but opened the second half with a 9-2 run, which pushed them up 48-46 after a 3-pointer by senior Audrey Hayes. With 2:50 left, Southwestern took back the lead at 57-54, but senior Sarah Parker tied the game at 60 points with one minute left in the third quarter.

Led by Shelton’s buzzer-beating layup at the end of the third quarter, the Lady Eagles went on a 27-7 run over a seven-minute stretch to extend their lead to 86-67. Oklahoma Christian went 6-6 from the free throw line during the final 2:47 of play to hold on to the lead for the remainder of the game.

Senior McKenzie Stanford led the Lady Eagles with 25 points, while sophomore Addy Clift and Parker added 21 and 17, respectively. Shelton had 12 points for Oklahoma Christian off the bench and Parker grabbed nine rebounds for the Lady Eagles.

Oklahoma Christian had a season-low 10 turnovers as a team, while forcing 18 from Southwestern. The Lady Eagles also shot 30-69 from the field, 11-23 from the 3-point arc and 23-35 from the free-thrown line.

The Lady Eagles continued to carry their momentum to Alva, OK, where they posted an 81-59 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State University on Dec. 10.

Shooting 8-25 from the field in the first half put the Lady Eagles down 27-21 going into halftime against a Northwestern team coached by former Oklahoma Christian basketball player, Tasha Diesselhorst. Northwestern extended its lead to 34-25 with 7:07 remaining in the third quarter.

A 22-6 run, however, pushed the Lady Eagles past the Rangers. A 3-pointer by Clift with 2:57 left in the quarter put Oklahoma Christian up 41-39. The Lady Eagles extended their lead by 23 points during the final 10 minutes of play by going 17-21 from the free-throw line.

Shelton hit all eight of her free throws while adding 16 points for Oklahoma Christian. Stanford put up 17 points and eight rebounds, Clift added 15 points and six rebounds, while Parker contributed 11 points in the Lady Eagles victory.

In their first Heartland Conference game, a season-high performance by Stanford helped lift the Lady Eagles past Oklahoma Panhandle State University 79-69 in Goodwell, OK, on Dec. 17.

The Aggies shot 75 percent from the field during the first quarter and grabbed an early seven-point lead, but the Lady Eagles closed the gap to 20-18 by the end of the quarter. Two 3-pointers by Clift in the second quarter helped Oklahoma Christian build a 41-35 halftime lead but the Aggies pulled within two points with a minute left in the third quarter.

With 6:20 left in the game, the Aggies tied the game at 63 but a basket by senior guard Kylee Hicks followed by a jumper, two free-throws and a layup by Stanford helped the Lady Eagles take back and maintain the lead for the remainder of the game.

Stanford had a season-best 28 points for the Lady Eagles, while Clift, Parker and Hayes added 17, 13 and 10 points, respectively. Hayes also added five steals for Oklahoma Christian.

A game-winning shot with 4.1 seconds left on the clock by Parker led Oklahoma Christian to a 67-66 Heartland Conference victory against Newman University in Wichita, KS on Dec. 19.

Despite building a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter, the Lady Eagles found themselves in an 11-minute stretch without a basket, causing Newman to come within five points at halftime, 38-33.

The Jets took a 59-52 lead with 4:48 left in the game and extended the score to 65-59 with a minute left. A 3-pointer by Clift with 49 seconds remaining cut the lead in half and a pair of free-throws by Parker with 14 seconds left put the Lady Eagles within two points, 66-64.

After the Jets missed two free-throws with 13.7 seconds left, Parker grabbed the defensive rebound, passed to sophomore guard Shae Scheffler and trailed the play. Pushing past her defender, Parker set her feet, received the ball from Scheffler and released the shot.

“It’s all been really exciting,” Parker said. “Hitting the game winning shot, being undefeated in conference; you can definitely say I had an adrenaline rush going into Christmas break. It’s great to see all the pieces coming together at the right time.”

Parker added 24 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double for the Lady Eagles, while Clift added 12 points and Stanford managed both 11 points and rebounds.

Oklahoma Christian went 21-57 from the field, 9-23 from the 3-point arc and 16-26 from the free-throw line as they extended their Heartland Conference record to 2-0.

The Lady Eagles snapped their four-game winning streak during their last non-conference game of the season, in a 75-67 loss to the University of Central Oklahoma on Dec. 29.

Stanford led Oklahoma Christian with 25 points. The senior, who as of Dec. 29 scored a career 1,403 points for the Lady Eagles, moved into 14th place on the Oklahoma Christian career scoring list and into ninth place on the Heartland Conference list with her performance against Central Oklahoma.

After a technical foul against the Lady Eagles before tipoff for not posting their starting lineup in the official scorebook, Central Oklahoma jumped to a 10-2 lead, but the Lad Eagles answered with 10 consecutive points.

Parker posted three 3-pointers during a 65-second span during the first quarter to put Oklahoma Christian ahead 15-13. The last of her 3-pointers gave Parker her 1,000th career point. She ended the game with 12 points and 7 rebounds.

Senior forward Hannah Holasek scored a season-high 10 points and gave the Lady Eagles a 20-18 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter. Scoring only two points in the next six minutes, however, caused a 15-2 run by the Bronchos, who did not trail for the remainder of the game.

Central Oklahoma led 43-31 at halftime, with the Lady Eagles never coming within nine points during the third quarter. With 2:28 left in the game, seven straight points by the Lady Eagles and a three-point play by Hayes brought Oklahoma Christian within 73-67, but they failed to score again.

Scheffler grabbed a career-high seven rebounds and added five points for the Lady Eagles.

Hitting only 16 of 51 shots, or 31.4 percent from the field, proved the deciding factor in Oklahoma Christian’s first conference loss to St. Edward’s University on Dec. 31.

Stanford led the Lady Eagles with 18 points and seven rebounds and Parker recorder her fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the 65-56 loss to the Hilltoppers on New Year’s Eve in the Nest.

The Hilltoppers forced 19 turnovers from the Lady Eagles, taking the lead with 2:21 left in the first quarter and never looking back.

“You’re not going to beat anybody in our conference scoring 56 points,” Head Coach Stephanie Findley said in an interview with Oklahoma Christian’s Sport Information Office. “Over Christmas break, somehow we’ve forgotten our offense and we can’t follow a game plan. We just couldn’t seem to remember anything we learned the first semester. We’ve got to get in the gym and get to work. I don’t know if all of our shots have left us, our brains have left us or what, but we’ve got to find it.”

St. Edward’s led 25-21 at halftime, with no single Lady Eagle with more than one basket. Oklahoma Christian tied the game at 25 with 8:38 left in the third quarter, but the Hilltoppers answered with a 7-0 run, stretching their lead to 15 points twice during the fourth quarter.

The Lady Eagles rallied with an 11-2 run to pull within 57-52 with 2:04 left in the game, but a turnover and two missed 3-pointers proved the comeback futile.

With her performance against St. Edward’s, Stanford moved into 12th place on the Oklahoma Christian career scoring list with 1,421 points and, as of Dec. 31, was 12 points shy of becoming one of the top 10 scorers in program history.

The Lady Eagles opened 2017 with an 80-36 win over Texas A&M International University on Jan. 5 in the Nest, while limiting the Dustdevils to the lowest point total of an Oklahoma Christian opponent since 2009.

Stanford scored 16 points for the Lady Eagles, moving into 10th place on the Oklahoma Christian career scoring list with 1,437. She is the first player to enter into the top-10 list since 2007.

In addition to Stanford, three other Lady Eagles posted double-digits against the Dustdevils, including Clift, who recorded her first career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Parker added 12 points and senior forward Emma Gade scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Oklahoma Christian.

The Dustdevils suited up only six players for the conference matchup and managed only eight points during both the third and fourth quarters. The Lady Eagles led 33-23 at halftime, before pulling away in the second half, never allowing Texas A&M International within less than nine points for the duration of the game.

As of Jan. 5, the Lady Eagles sat tied for second place in the Heartland Conference standings with St. Mary’s University with a 3-1 conference record.

In their final game of the holiday break, the Lady Eagles lost 83-74 to St. Mary’s in the Nest on Saturday, falling into a tie for fourth place with the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith in the Heartland Conference standings.

The Rattlers claimed a 26-10 lead over the Lady Eagles with 6:02 left in the second quarter, but an 11-2 run by Oklahoma Christian closed the gap to 34-28 at halftime.

With 3:20 left in the third, a 3-point play by Hayes and 3-pointers from Stanford and Clift put the Lady Eagles on a 10-0 run, which put Oklahoma Christian within 52-51. An 8-0 run by the Rattlers with 8:17 left in the game, however, pulled St. Mary’s up 62-59 and allowed them to hold the lead until the end of the game.

Stanford ended the game with her fourth double-double of the season, with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Parker added 16 points and a career-high three blocked shots, while Hayes contributed 12 points to the effort. Hicks had nine rebounds and six assists for the Lady Eagles.

Oklahoma Christian will travel to Arkansas-Fort Smith on Thursday to face the Lady Lions at 5:30 p.m.

Statistics provided by the Oklahoma Christian University Sports Information office.

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