PUEBLO, Colo. (Nov. 16, 2013) – Chalk this one up as a lesson learned for Oklahoma Christian.
Up 13 points on the road against a quality foe early in the second half, the Lady Eagles looked like they would cruise, but Colorado State-Pueblo took advantage of OC defensive mistakes and rallied for a 77-69 win on Saturday at Massari Arena in the Al Kaly Shriners’ Classic.
The Thunderwolves pulled even with a 20-7 run and then closed the game with a 13-5 spurt to hand OC (3-1) its first loss of the season.
OC guard Logan McKee scored 18 points and went 4-of-8 from 3-point range to make the all-tournament team along with Sydney Hill, who finished with 14 points. Sophomore Aisha Martin scored a career-high 17 points for the Lady Eagles, hitting 4-of-7 3-point attempts.
“We lost and we’re very disappointed in that, because we played a great first half,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “We knew that they would start hitting some shots … and they did in the second half.
“We played so well in the first half, then we had some breakdowns on defense after that. A lot of that had to do with our communication with some of our new kids. But we’ll get better at that. … We can go home and watch the film and learn a lot of things. How did we lose the lead? How did we have those breakdowns?”
CSU-Pueblo (3-1) won 18 games last season and jumped to a quick 8-2 lead over the Lady Eagles. OC followed with a 13-0 run, during which McKee hit two 3-pointers and McKenzie Stanford hit another.
Against a tall CSU-Pueblo lineup, OC forward Roz Hamilton battled foul trouble during the first half but the Lady Eagles’ perimeter players stood in the gap. The Lady Eagles hit seven 3-pointers in the first half to build a 40-31 lead and another 3-pointer, by Hill, put OC up 47-34 with 17:16 left.
But OC went the next 4:45 without a basket, allowing the Thunderwolves to rally. Dee Arrieta’s 3-pointer with 6:37 left put CSU-Pueblo up 60-59. Hill hit a layup to return the lead to OC and the Lady Eagles were tied 64-64 after another layup by Hill with 4:34 left.
Jenay Locke answered with a layup and two free throws, then tournament MVP Alex Evans swished a 3-pointer to give the Thunderwolves a 71-64 lead. Two free throws by Martin and a 3-pointer by Hamilton got OC within 71-69 with 2:18 left, but the Lady Eagles failed to score on their final five possessions.
OC finished 12-of-24 from 3-point range.
Paige Ramm scored 19 points to lead five Thunderwolves in double figures. Arrieta scored 16 points and Taylor Fox, who also made the all-tournament team, had 13 points. Evans scored 12 points and Katie Nehf had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Findley said the game was good preparation as the Lady Eagles start Heartland Conference play on Thursday at St. Mary’s (Texas), which won the conference tournament last season to qualify for the NCAA Division II tournament.
CSU-Pueblo “is a good team,” Findley said. “This is a good league and this is a good team in this league. So it bodes well for us and for our conference. I kind of think the (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference), which is their conference, gets a little more respect than the Heartland, so us playing them close here on this floor hopefully will help our conference as a whole.”