#2 in 2013 – Lady Eagles roll to Central Region title, reach NCCAA semifinals

All-America center Katy O'Steen led the Lady Eagles to the NCCAA Central Region title and a national semifinal berth as a senior.
All-America center Katy O'Steen led the Lady Eagles to the NCCAA Central Region title and a national semifinal berth as a senior.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of posts recapping the top stories in Oklahoma Christian athletics during the 2013 calendar year.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 30, 2013) – For the first time in 27 years, Oklahoma Christian was able to celebrate a women’s basketball postseason title this year, before eventually advancing to the semifinals of a national tournament.

OC’s National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region title and the program’s deepest postseason run ever were No. 2 on the list of top stories in OC athletics in 2013.

Standing at 14-11 late in the season, the Lady Eagles looked to be battling just to finish above .500. But OC routed Oklahoma Panhandle State 86-43, then beat Heartland Conference champion Texas-Permian Basin 77-71  in overtime in the regular-season finale, ending UTPB’s 13-game winning streak thanks in good part to freshman Sidney Hill’s 29-point outing. The win meant the Lady Eagles would have finished third in the Heartland had the conference chosen to count their results.

OC thus entered the Central Region tournament in Bartlesville on a roll that kept going. The Lady Eagles blew past outmanned Ecclesia (Ark.) 91-46 in the quarterfinals, then posted their third win in as many tries against Heartland rival McMurry (Texas) in the semifinals, taking a 66-51 decision.

Longtime nemesis Southern Nazarene awaited in the title game with a 10-game winning streak, but OC picked up 20 points from Krista Stevens, jumped ahead early and never trailed during the game’s final 29 minutes en route to a 73-64 win. The Lady Eagles’ postseason crown was their first since winning the NAIA District 9 title in 1986, coach Stephanie Findley’s first season at the helm.

The win qualified OC for the NCCAA Championship in Winona Lake, Ind. OC faced third-seeded Cedarville (Ohio) in the first round and Hill posted a 24-point gem to rally the sixth-seeded Lady Eagles to a 78-74 win. It was the first time in the program’s history that the Lady Eagles – three-time NAIA quarterfinalists – had reached a national semifinal.

A hot-shooting California Baptist team finally ended OC’s run, hitting 13 3-pointers to beat the Lady Eagles 98-86 despite a career-high 31 points from Katy O’Steen. Another former NAIA power, Union (Tenn.), downed the Lady Eagles 64-53 in the third-place game, while Southern Nazarene – which received an at-large bid to the national tournament – beat Cal Baptist for the title.

O’Steen, a senior center from Durant, was named as the Central Region player of the year and was a first-team selection to the NCCAA All-America, All-Region and All-Heartland Conference honor teams. She finished her career ranked No. 11 on OC’s all-time scoring list.

Roz Hamilton and Logan McKee received honorable mention on the all-conference teams.