Lady Lions lose late lead, game to No. 3 Stars
SAGU puts scare into OKCU behind Winston, Page, Ward
Thursday is final home game until February 8
Box Score (link below)
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A valiant effort by Southwestern Assemblies of God University that witnessed them leading the nation’s No. 3 ranked Oklahoma City University with eight minutes remaining didn’t last as the Stars rallied for a 77-65 triumph at the Sheaffer Center on Monday.
After jumping to an 8-0 lead the heavily favored Stars toiled the rest of the way against an inspired Lady Lions team. They simply couldn’t create any separation on the scoreboard.
SAGU was in position to pull a stunning upset until going cold down the stretch.
Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS ) split a pair of free throws to lift the Purple Pride to a 59-58 lead with 8:37 to go.
That’s when OKC (9-1 / 6-0 in SAC) regrouped and staved off the upset-minded Lady Lions.
SAGU, now 8-8 overall and 2-4 in the Sooner Athletic Conference, had given the Stars fit all night. They battled tooth and nail, refusing to fold.
Eight times they drew to within two-points and reduced their deficit to one point on seven occasions. They had numerous opportunities to tie or move ahead but were denied by a Stars team that couldn’t distance themselves from the upstart hosts.
SAGU scored nine unanswered points, by four different players; Rodriguez had three points, while Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS ), Charity Page (Nacogdoches, Tx / Nacogdoches HS ) and Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian ) had two apiece.
The Stars countered with four straight three-pointers to shut the door on the Lady Lions bid to end OCU’s 34-game conference winning streak.
Junior guard Yvonte Neal fired the first one on their next trip down the court. Thanks to an offensive rebound on their ensuing possession, Autumn Lau, a senior forward, drained another trey from the right corner.
SAGU senior Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Lakeview Centennial HS ), who poured in 18 first half points, cashed in an offensive putback. Autumn Huffman countered by duplicating the play with a stickback of a Lau miss.
Rodriguez replied with a basket on a sweet pass inside from Laken Ward (Cleveland, Ark / Wonderview HS ), to keep SAGU within 66-63 with 6:13 remaining.
Kayla McKenzie ripped the nets from beyond the arc, then assisted on a trifecta by Neal to swell the lead to 72-63 (3:53). It capped a 14-4 run.
Lau was the catalyst for Team Blue with seven points during an overall 19-6 scoring spree (since SAGU took the lead).
In the game’s final 8:37, SAGU made just 3-of-9 shots and committed four turnovers. Meanwhile, OCU was 7-of-14 with no errors.
Winning games on nights when you don’t have you’re A-game is the sign of good teams. The Stars, who have averaged 31 wins during the past 10 seasons, had to sweat against a very determined SAGU team.
SAGU could make a lot of noise over the remaining 14 games with more showings like Monday. Rising to the occasion has the opportunity to reveal a “coming of age” for Team Purple.
Golden Eagles visit on Thursday
They will get another chance on Thursday when No. 16 John Brown University (11-3 / 3-2 in SAC) comes to town.
The Golden Eagles have lost their last two games, including a 60-53 decision to a hot-shooting Southwestern Christian (4-9 / 2-3 in SAC) on Saturday.
Team Statistics and Player Totals
SAGU connected on 45% (13 of 29) of their first shots before cooling off in the second. They were 10 of 36 for 28% down the stretch to finish at 35%.
OCU was steady, tossing in 14 field goals in both halves, shooting 45% for the game.
Fourteen of twenty (70%) from the foul line is good for the Pride, though it included six makes and five costly misses after intermission. OCU was 14 of 19.
The difference was a 50-32 control of the boards by the visitors. They pulled down 21 misses on offense and converted on most of them.
SAGU grabbed 16 of their own, cashing in on many.
Forcing the Stars into 20 turnovers enabled the home team to actually take more shots, 65-62, than the perennial powerhouse.
Winston led SAGU with 24 points. Teamed with defensive splinter, Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS ), the guards combined for seven steals and seven assists.
Winston’s game included four three-balls and just one turnover in 38 minutes.
Rallying from an 8-0 hole, it was Winston scoring 12 points to draw the Lions to within 16-14. Her trifecta kept SAGU on the Stars’ heels at 19-17.
Ward, active on both ends, displayed power in the paint with a drive to the rack. The Stars still led by the slimmest of margins at 30-29.
An offensive follow by Page and a pair of Ward free throws had SAGU providing answers while trailing 35-34.
Hill notched five assists, all before halftime. SAGU trailed 42-38.
Stellar freshmen Page and Ward are arriving just in time. Both accounted for 12 points.
Ward added seven boards, four of the on offense, while Page made 4-of-5 shots and latched onto five boards.
Their consistency and assertive play is gobbling up minutes and increasing in their role on the team.
Roberts registered six boards and blocked two shots. Rodriguez added nine points.
The Stars placed four in double digits, led by Lau (like ‘ouch’) with 17.
Her intensity was almost tangible, overcoming a technical foul for taunting with gritty play down the stretch. She converted six of her eight shots.
Neal netted 16 with MacKenzie and Huffman each scoring 14. The latter led both teams with 13 rebounds, including a whopping nine on offense.
(for play-by-play click on split blue box in right corner)