Lady Eagles close semester on a high note, beat Tabor 70-67

Sydney Hill led OC with 15 points and made several key defensive plays in the Lady Eagles' win over Tabor.
Sydney Hill led OC with 15 points and made several key defensive plays in the Lady Eagles' win over Tabor.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 15, 2012) – Oklahoma Christian trailed most of the game on Saturday afternoon against Tabor (Kan.), but the Lady Eagles cranked up the defense and went ahead at just the right time.

OC held Tabor scoreless for the final 2:35 and closed the game on a 6-0 run, allowing the Lady Eagles to escape with a 70-67 win in the Eagles’ Nest in their final first-semester game.

Guards Sydney Hill (15 points) and Logan McKee (14 points) combined to go 6-of-12 from 3-point range and center Katy O’Steen shook off a tough shooting outing by scoring five of OC’s final six points when the Lady Eagles absolutely had to have them.

As coach Stephanie Findley said, a closer-than-expected win is better than a close loss, especially considering OC (6-6) already has dropped two one-point decisions this basketball season and lost another game in overtime.

“I was proud of the girls because they kept fighting,” Findley said. “Nothing seemed to fall. Katy O’Steen couldn’t get anything to fall. Every time it looked like we’d have a wide-open layup, the ball would bounce over our heads or we’d fumble it. So I give the girls credit for fighting through when everything seemed to be going against us.”

Tabor (8-6) shot a sizzling 72.7 percent (8 of 11) from 3-point range in the first half and finished 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) from behind the arc. The Bluejays’ first seven baskets were 3-pointers and they didn’t score a 2-point basket until more than 10 minutes into the game.

“Give them credit,” Findley said. “I don’t know how many threes they hit, but they were hot. Give us credit for waking up a little bit on defense in the second half, finally, and covering the arc.”

OC led only briefly on three occasions in the first half, for less than two minutes. The Bluejays led by as many as 10 points before OC’s Roz Hamilton scored seven straight points in the final 1:19 of the half, allowing the Lady Eagles to close within 41-36 at halftime.

Tabor led by as many as 11 points in the second half, the last time at 60-49 after a 3-pointer by Nikki Lewis with 11:03 left. But the Bluejays managed only three field goals after that, allowing OC to crawl back into the game.

McKee hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull OC within 64-62 with 4:59 left and O’Steen made two free throws with 3:25 left to tie the game at 64-64. Janelle Rust, who scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Tabor, converted a three-point play with 2:35 left to put the Bluejays back up 67-64.

Tabor committed turnovers on three of its final six possessions.

O’Steen – who was 2-of-12 from the field at that point – hit a 15-foot jumper with 2:18 left, then a 17-footer with 33 seconds left to give OC a 68-67 lead, its first advantage in 28½ minutes of game time.

Hill stole a Tabor inbounds pass and made 1-of-2 free throws with 10.7 seconds left, and with 5.9 seconds left, a hustling Krista Stevens forced Lewis to dribble the ball off her knee and out of bounds for Lewis’ 12th turnover of the game. Tabor committed 21 turnovers to OC’s 14.

O’Steen made 1-of-2 free throws with 4.5 seconds left and the Bluejays couldn’t get a shot off after that, thanks to pressure defense by Hamilton and Hill on Rust.

“The girls found a way to do it and that’s what we’ve got to do,” Findley said.

Rust went 4-of-6 from 3-point range, while Lewis was 4-of-5 from behind the arc for Tabor. Lewis scored 18 points and had six assists for the Bluejays.

O’Steen and Hamilton both finished with 11 points for OC. Hamilton also had a team-high four assists.

OC will be off until hosting Evangel (Mo.) on Dec. 29. The Lady Eagles will resume Heartland Conference play on Jan. 3, hosting Newman (Kan.).