OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 20, 2014) – Kendre Talley made his final regular-season basketball game at the Eagles’ Nest one to remember on Thursday night and his teammates came along for the ride.
The senior point guard from Spencer had 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while the inside duo of John Moon and Jordan VanDeKop combined for 27 points and 13 rebounds to lift the Eagles past Dallas Baptist (Texas) 77-60.
OC (8-16, 4-12 Heartland Conference) completed a season sweep of Dallas Baptist (11-13, 7-9), which had entered the game on a four-game winning streak to move into contention to qualify for the four-team league tournament. More importantly for the Eagles, they snapped an eight-game losing streak, the longest for the program since the 2000-01 season.
“These kids have worked so hard every day,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “I should be able to take the losing streak, but these kids, it’s tough for them. It was so good to see so many guys play so well against a good team. … It was just a good win for a lot of guys. I know our guys feel good about themselves right now.
“Kendre Talley has been playing well for four years. … Here’s a kid that bleeds Oklahoma Christian. He personifies everything that we believe in, with his academics and how he handles himself, and he’s such a good player. He’s a guy that we need to enjoy, because there aren’t a lot of them like him.”
The promise that the Eagles had shown in recent games – most notably in close losses to top-tier Heartland squads Rogers State and Arkansas-Fort Smith – was fulfilled against Dallas Baptist. OC trailed the Patriots for all of 19 seconds and led for the final 21½ minutes.
Talley was a huge reason why, scoring six points during an 18-6 run near the start of the second half that turned a four-point lead into a 49-33 advantage with 11:42 left.
The Patriots came no closer than eight points after that, as poor 3-point shooting short-circuited their efforts to rally. Dallas Baptist finished 8-of-36 from behind the arc (22.2 percent).
“I just really wanted to win tonight,” Talley said. “That’s all I’ve been thinking about, is a win. I’m glad we got it.
“We’ve been working hard every day. We know how good we can be. We’re looking forward to keep working hard and winning that (National Christian College Athletic Association) regional tournament.”
OC found its most success by going to the basket. Five times, an OC player was fouled while scoring, and the Eagles converted on four of those and-one opportunities. The Eagles shot 54.2 percent from the field (26-of-48).
Moon finished 7-of-8, including a couple of late dunks that effectively sealed the win. He finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots, while VanDeKop scored 13 points and had five rebounds. Guard Nick Tate scored 13 of his 15 points after halftime and added seven rebounds for OC.
“Nick Tate had an outstanding second half,” Hays said. “He finished at the basket very, very strong.”
The Patriots took their only lead at 3-2 on a 3-pointer by Cory Carden. They didn’t score again for six minutes, allowing OC to build a 14-3 lead. A 3-pointer by Willie Harper pushed OC’s lead to 20-8 at the 12:30 mark of the first half.
Then it was OC’s turn for a scoring drought. A 14-3 run by Dallas Baptist closed the gap and the Patriots tied the game twice, the final time at 26-26 on two free throws by Myles Johnson with 1:48 left in the half. OC closed on a 5-0 run to take a 31-26 halftime lead.
Johnson led the Patriots with 18 points and Jonathan Perry added 11. Dallas Baptist shot 31.7 percent from the field (19-of-60).
OC is 4-0 against Dallas Baptist since joining the Heartland Conference before the 2012-13 season and leads the all-time series 17-7.