PUEBLO, Colo. (Nov. 17, 2012) – Mason White hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left to cap a West Texas A&M rally and give the Buffaloes a 55-52 win over Oklahoma Christian on Saturday afternoon in the Al Kaly Shriners’ Classic at Colorado State-Pueblo’s Massari Arena.
OC (3-3) led most of the way until enduring a scoring drought at the worst possible time. The Eagles scored just one point after a basket by Nick Tate gave them a 51-47 lead with 7:20 left, allowing longtime NCAA Division II power West Texas A&M (4-0) to close the came on a 7-1 run.
No more than eight points separated the teams during the tightly contested game. West Texas A&M’s lead at the end was its biggest of the game.
Senior center Will Reinke, who was named to the six-player all-classic team, led the Eagles with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but no other OC player reached double figures in points. The Eagles have lost three of four games in a difficult stretch during which they are playing six straight games away from home, most against quality Division II foes.
“It was an excellent effort against a very good team,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “I really feel we beat ourselves with some fundamental mistakes. It was a good learning experience that will make us better.”
The Eagles jumped to a 9-2 lead led 34-26 late in the first half before settling for a 34-30 halftime lead. OC shot a sizzling 61.9 percent from the field in the half (13 of 21).
OC held the lead until Barry Johnson’s 3-pointer put the Buffaloes up 52-51 with 2:12 left. Willie Harper hit 1-of-2 free throws with 55 seconds left to tie the game and Reinke rebounded the miss, giving OC a chance to regain the lead. But after a timeout, Harper missed a 3-point attempt with 31 seconds left and Darnell Jackson rebounded for West Texas A&M, giving the Buffaloes a chance at the final shot.
The Eagles finished the game shooting 50 percent (21 of 42) while West Texas A&M shot 45.7 percent (21 of 46). Five West Texas A&M players reached double figures in scoring – Jackson and Donald Sims had 12 points each, White had 11 and Johnson and Tez Dumars had 10 each.
For a second straight game, OC struggled at the free-throw line, shooting 50 percent (6 of 12).
OC will be off until Nov. 27, when the Eagles will visit Central Oklahoma. It will be the first regular-season meeting between the cross-Edmond rivals in five years and only the sixth meeting since the 1988-89 season.