OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 23, 2014) – Two numbers on the stat sheet pretty much told the entire story of the Texas A&M International-Oklahoma Christian basketball game on Thursday night.
Heartland Conference-leading TAMIU shot 57.1 percent from the field, while the Eagles shot 37.7 percent and never led in falling 80-65 in the Eagles’ Nest, snapping their three-game winning streak.
Four players scored in double figures for OC (7-9, 3-5 Heartland) but the Eagles couldn’t overcome huge games from TAMIU’s Jordan Clark (28 points) and Johnel Grey (25 points), who almost always seemed to come up with a big basket for the Dustdevils whenever OC threatened.
“They were just better than we were tonight,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “We fought hard. We’d closed the gap up on them, we’d execute but we just never could make enough shots.”
TAMIU (14-4, 7-1) jumped to an 8-0 lead as OC’s shooting struggles started early. The Eagles rallied to tie the game at 8-8, but TAMIU scored the next nine points and led the rest of the way.
OC cut a 14-point first-half deficit to 40-33 by halftime and came within five points twice in the second half, the last time at 46-41 on a basket by Jordan VanDeKop with 16:23 left. TAMIU answered with a 16-4 run and led 62-45 after a 3-pointer by Grey with 10:15 left.
The Eagles came no closer than 11 points the rest of the way in what will be their only meeting of the season with TAMIU. The Dustdevils outrebounded OC 38-27.
“The way they were pressuring, we had to establish our inside game a little bit more, either by pass or dribble, and we couldn’t do it by either,” Hays said. “Kendre (Talley) had a tough time finishing. John Moon, who has been playing great, had a tough night. Those guys are big, strong and quick and that’s going to happen when you’ve got a young team. Some nights you play poorly and this was one of them.”
Talley led OC with 16 points, while VanDeKop and Nick Tate had 15 points each for OC and Willie Harper had 13 off the bench.
Damal Donaldson added 13 points for the Dustdevils.
OC will host St. Mary’s (Texas) on Saturday afternoon in the final game of a four-game homestand.