Lady Eagles outlast top-ranked St. Mary’s

Photo by: Henoc Kivuye

 

After a loss to Texas A&M International University Dustdevils, the Lady Eagles proved their talent by beating the formerly-undefeated Rattlers of St. Mary’s University, the top women’s basketball team in the Heartland Conference.

On Thursday, Jan. 24th, Oklahoma Christian faced off against the Dustdevils of Texas A&M International.

Although the outcome was not desirable for the Lady Eagles, it was a back-and-forth battle for every minute of the game. Oklahoma Christian fell to TAMIU, 73-71.

The Lady Eagles missed critical free throws at the end of the game, and the Dustdevils capitalized on their opponent’s mistakes.

“The free throws hurt us because we only shot fifty percent from the line, but that’s not the only reason we lost,” senior Madison Middle said.

Oklahoma Christian shot 16-28 from the line for the entire game, but shot only 4-11 in the last 10 minutes of the close match-up, allowing TAMIU to sneak past for the win.

Despite the loss, many members of the Lady Eagles stood out.

Senior Katy O’Steen had her third double-double for the season and ended the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior Logan McKee followed right behind with 17 points, senior Roz Hamilton finished with 10, senior Krista Stevens had eight, Middle had six, freshman Jasmine Hinton added five and senior Kaitlyn Morris, freshman Daisha Gonzaque and senior Andee Wayne had two points each.

The following game against St. Mary’s promised to be a tough match-up, but the Lady Eagles prevailed in another close game, winning 83-78.

Before the game, the Lady Eagles were challenged to stay focused mentally and not to be discouraged, no matter the final outcome.

“We got a big pep talk yesterday at practice; we needed a reminder that we needed to be thinking we are going to make a shot, instead of just hoping it would go in,” Middle said. “Our confidence was low after the last game, and we were just reminded that we are good, and that we are college basketball players and we are good at scoring.”

The Lady Eagles went out and did just that; besides leading scorers Hamilton and O’Steen, many of the Lady Eagles added points to the board.

McKee finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds, Morris recorded eight points, Stevens had five, freshman Aisha Martin finished with four and senior Talor Ward and Hinton each added two.

“This game was huge in that we bounced back and showed some confidence and didn’t let that game get us down,” head coach Stephanie Findley said. “That was huge in helping us build our confidence and understand what I see in this team, which is that we’re good enough to play this way every night. It’s really frustrating to us when we don’t. Hopefully, this will open the gate for us to be a little more consistent and bring that effort every night.”

The Lady Eagles went 28-35 from the free-throw line, a huge improvement from the previous game.

The career-high performance of Hamilton, with 10 rebounds and 24 points, came at just the right time of the season for Oklahoma Christian.

O’Steen also added 21 points and six rebounds of her own.

“We were just really ready for this game; we’ve had a lot of games where we didn’t come out focused after halftime, but everyone was ready to win that game,” Hamilton said.

Although the score was tied 40-40 at halftime, the momentum the team showed afterward was apparent when Oklahoma Christian went on a 15-7 scoring run. This was followed by another scoring run of 12-3 toward the end of the game.

St. Mary’s fought back within five points in the last minutes of the game, but the Lady Eagles held their lead until the end to defeat the Rattlers.

“I’m just glad to finish the game by holding them off,” Findley said. “We kept our lead. We had a spell there when we were trying to turn it over and give it back to them, but we recovered from that and were able to hold them off. I’m glad to see us progress in that area.”

The players also mentioned that after making the transition from NAIA to Division II, there seems to be an obvious difference in the style of basketball played by the new opponents.

“It’s a lot more physical,” Hamilton said. “NAIA was a lot of fundamental, controlled basketball, and this is more one-on-one. They like to play a lot rougher.”

Despite coming in as the physical underdog, Oklahoma Christian has proved their mettle and, according to Middle, gained confidence for the rest of the season.

“We realized after winning today that we can match up with anybody,” Middle said. “If we can beat them, then we can beat anybody.”

The Lady Eagles’ next game will be on Thursday, Jan. 31, at Newman University.

The last time Oklahoma Christian played Newman, it resulted in a close 73-71 win for the Lady Eagles.

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