OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 29, 2012) – The Christmas break didn’t break Oklahoma Christian’s recent momentum, as the Lady Eagles controlled the tempo with their defense en route to a 69-47 win over Evangel (Mo.) on Saturday afternoon in the Eagles’ Nest.
Roz Hamilton scored 14 points and Katy O’Steen added 11 as OC (7-6) won its third straight game in its final non-Heartland Conference game of the season. Despite playing up-tempo for long stretches of the game, the Lady Eagles committed only 12 turnovers while forcing Evangel (2-6) into 20.
OC, which split with a pair of Heartland foes during the first semester, will begin conference play in earnest on Thursday at home against Newman (Kan.), followed by a home game two days later against Arkansas-Fort Smith. Coach Stephanie Findley said Saturday’s game provided her team with a lot of positives.
“It was balanced,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “We got to play a lot of people. We got to experiment a little bit with some things we want to do on defense. We started working on the new stuff yesterday and we used a little bit of it today. … This team played Fort Smith and they only lost by 10. I don’t know what that says, but we feel pretty good.”
OC had been off since beating Tabor (Kan.) on Dec. 15 and, like any coach, Findley worried that rust might have set in on her team during the extended break. But after falling behind 5-0, the Lady Eagles battled back and took the lead for good at 17-16 on a basket by Daisha Gonzaque with 8:34 left in the first half.
The Lady Eagles closed the half on a 12-5 run to take a 35-25 lead and scored the first nine points of the second half, a run highlighted by a 3-pointer by Logan McKee and a three-point play by Hamilton. O’Steen’s basket with 15:28 left gave OC a 44-25 lead and the Crusaders came no closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Evangel had only 10 players on its roster, so Findley decided to take advantage by pressing and using mass substitutions for long stretches of both halves. The strategy worked, as Evangel struggled to find open looks, often having to take poor shots with the shot clock running down.
OC outrebounded the Crusaders 45-37 and limited them to 34 percent shooting (17 of 50). The Lady Eagles shot 37.3 percent from the field (25 of 67).
Sierra McSpadden led Evangel with 20 points, while Emily Akins scored 15, but only four other Crusaders scored.
“We knew they weren’t very deep,” Findley said. “We wanted to kind of play half-court defense for the first 12 to 13 minutes of the half, then throw the press at them and see how they handled it. They didn’t handle it very well, so we kept doing it a little bit, in an effort to speed them up and make them tired.”
Contributions came from all over the court for OC. McKee went 3-of-4 from 3-point range and Kaitlyn Morris went 2-for-3 from behind the arc. Jasmine Hinton had three steals. Sydney Hill had three assists and Makenzie Brown had five hard-earned points along with an assist, a blocked shot and a steal in her 11 minutes – her first since Dec. 8, as she missed the Tabor game due to illness.
“She was maybe a little hungrier than everybody else, because she sat out that last game,” Findley said of Brown. “I think she came out with a little bit of fire, which is good. I thought everybody did a little something.
”Those guys that haven’t been getting to play much came on at the end and played hard and they executed their offense very well. They sat some good screens and ran things like they should. That’s what we need out of them.”