5 reach double figures as Eagles take down Southern Nazarene

OC's Nick Tate (right) drives past SNU's Quan Conner during Tuesday's game, which the Eagles won 98-83.
OC's Nick Tate (right) drives past SNU's Quan Conner during Tuesday's game, which the Eagles won 98-83.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 12, 2013) – Southern Nazarene made its run, but Oklahoma Christian’s depth and balance proved to be more than enough against the Crimson Storm on Tuesday night.

Five OC players scored in double figures as the Eagles build a double-digit lead, held off a second-half rally and pulled away again late for a 98-83 win over their archrivals from Bethany.

Kendre Talley had 22 points and eight assists, while Nick Tate had 21 points, nine rebounds and a did-you-see-that save and assist that led to a Willie Harper dunk in the second half. Harper had 17 points and threw a nifty no-look pass for a late dunk by John Moon.

Redshirt freshman Jordan VanDeKop added 15 points and eight rebounds while true freshman Jordan Rutherford hit three 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. The Eagles shot 51.5 percent (35 of 68) from the field and came within a basket of a second 100-point outing in as many games this season.

“We had to grind,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “We made a good run at the end of the first half to build up a lead, then Southern comes out (in the second half) and gets back into things, then we were able to fight them off and got under control. The last seven minutes I thought our execution was much, much better.”

OC (2-0) never trailed after the opening minutes but SNU (0-2) never let the Eagles become too comfortable. The Crimson Storm jumped to a quick 7-2 lead before OC scored nine straight points, capped by a 3-pointer from VanDeKop. OC led by as many as 13 points in the first half before taking a 50-38 advantage into the locker room.

SNU opened the second half on a 9-0 run and pulled within 50-47 on a putback by Antwone Jackson with 17:50 left. The Crimson Storm stuck close but never could completely close the gap.

SNU was still within 77-73 after two free throws by C.J. Smith with 5:51 left, but the Eagles answered with a 9-0 run, capped by Tate’s amazing play. Leaping into the third row of the stands to save a loose ball, he controlled the ball and fired it 60 feet down the floor to an open Harper, who had an easy dunk to make it 86-73 with 3:43 left.

Harper’s behind-the-back pass to Moon came with 2:39 left and put OC up 90-78.

Tate’s pass “was a great play, and then Willie’s behind-the-back pass to John Moon for a slam was another really good play. Look, these guys are unselfish.”

OC outrebounded the Crimson Storm 40-30, helping the Eagles overcome an 11-for-29 3-point shooting effort by SNU. Quan Conner went 5-of-11 from behind the arc and led SNU with 22 points, while Smith hit three 3-points and had 21 points and nine rebounds.

Jackson scored 17 points and L.B. Willis added 12 for SNU.

“I’ve never had a game against Southern that wasn’t a grind and tonight wasn’t any different,” Hays said.

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