FORT SMITH, Ark. (Feb. 2, 2013) – As Oklahoma Christian coach Stephanie Findley says, the Lady Eagles are “starting to figure it out” as this basketball season progresses.
OC refused to lose on Saturday afternoon at the Stubblefield Center, rallying in regulation and surviving in the first overtime before Logan McKee slammed the door on Arkansas-Fort Smith in the second overtime, going 6-of-6 from the line to lift the Lady Eagles to a 79-76 win.
OC (12-9) has won three straight games, the last two on the road against Heartland Conference foes. The Lady Eagles avenged an earlier loss to UAFS (6-13), which won in the Eagles’ Nest on Jan. 5. OC’s leading scorer, Katy O’Steen, missed that game, but she had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists Saturday, part of a three-headed monster that eventually devoured the Lions.
Roz Hamilton scored 22 points to lead the Lady Eagles and McKee added 16 along with six assists. More importantly, she went 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.
“To get these road wins is really big,” Findley said. “It’s been a strange year, because we don’t have a history with these teams. It’s really hard to motivate. We don’t know anything about them. You don’t have revenge on your mind. You’re always going to play somebody new. Every place is new and we’re not sure about it.
“But we are starting to execute better. That’s what you want to do. You’ve got to get better as the year goes on and I feel that’s what we’re doing.”
OC scored just four points in the final 8:40 of regulation, but they all came in the final 1:39 as OC rallied from a 58-54 deficit. UAFS didn’t score in the final 3:55 of regulation and needed O’Steen to miss a 14-foot jumper at the buzzer just to get to overtime.
At the end of the first overtime, Brittany Holbert missed a driving layup attempt at the buzzer for the Lions. Brenna Jones’ 3-pointer 12 seconds into the second overtime put UAFS up 70-67, but McKee answered with two free throws and O’Steen put OC ahead for good with a 6-foot jumper with 4:00 left.
UAFS pulled within 75-74 after Holbert made two free throws with 1:30 left. O’Steen fouled out on that play, but McKee picked up the mantle. She made two free throws at the 1:08 mark, and after Angi Ramey scored on a put-back for UAFS with 52.2 seconds left, McKee again played the hero.
She missed a layup, but the ball went out of bounds off UAFS with 27.7 seconds left. McKee dribbled around until 14.2 seconds left, when she was fouled by Danielle McFadden. McKee again made both free throws, making it 79-76.
UAFS managed only a long, rushed 3-point attempt by Destyni Howard at the buzzer.
OC won despite being outrebounded 59-44. Two Lions recorded double-doubles – Ramey, with 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Katie BenAmor, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Porscha Donnerson (12 points) and Howard (10 points) also scored in double figures for UAFS, while Holbert had 10 assists.
It helped that the Lady Eagles committed just four turnovers in the second half and overtimes after having eight in the first half. UAFS committed 20 turnovers.
OC trailed by 11 points in the first half, but rallied to tie the game 30-30 by halftime. OC’s largest lead was six points, the last time after a Katy O’Steen basket with 9:35 left in regulation.
“They gave great effort,” Findley said of her players. “The first half it just seemed like we never got off the bus. At halftime I told them we just had to win one half to win this game. … It felt real good going in at halftime being tied with them. “