Hot start doesn’t last as Lady Eagles fall to Lubbock Christian

OC's Emma Gade looks for an opening against Lubbock Christian's Kelsey Hoppel during Saturday's game.
OC's Emma Gade looks for an opening against Lubbock Christian's Kelsey Hoppel during Saturday's game.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 14, 2013) – About 5½ minutes into their game Saturday afternoon against Lubbock Christian (Texas), things were going swimmingly for the Oklahoma Christian Lady Eagles.

Shots were falling and the Lady Eagles were getting defensive stops, resulting in a seven-point lead against a team that’s become a small-college power in recent years. Then it quickly turned sour.

When it all was finished, the Lady Eagles had hit just 28.2 percent of their shots and were on the wrong end of a 79-59 decision in their Heartland Conference home opener – OC’s first home game since Nov. 12.

“I wasn’t displeased with our offense,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “We were getting shots. We were getting open shots and running our stuff. We just have hit a cold spell. We went on the road for so long, it just seems like we’re in a big funk and nobody can find their shot. Hopefully we’ll get some for Christmas. Maybe they’ll be under the tree for us.”

Three-pointers by Emma Gade and Logan McKee gave OC (4-5, 0-3 Heartland) the early lead. McKee’s put OC up 14-7 with 14:27 left in the first half, but the Lady Eagles managed only one more field goal the rest of the half.

Lubbock Christian (9-1, 5-0) took advantage. The Lady Chaparrals went on a 12-0 run to take the lead. Two free throws by Roz Hamilton and a three-point play by Krista Stevens tied the score at 19-19 at the 8:37 mark, but Kaycie Boyles’ layup two minutes later broke the deadlock and put Lubbock Christian ahead for good.

A 3-pointer by Haley Burton in the final seconds of the half gave the Lady Chaparrals a 35-22 lead. OC came no closer than 12 points in the second half as the Lady Eagles’ shooting struggles continued. The Lady Eagles went 20 of 71 from the field, including 3 of 20 from 3-point range (15 percent). They also struggled at the free-throw line, finishing 16 of 25 (64 percent).

All that offset the fact they took care of the basketball, committing only nine turnovers.

“We used up all of our makes in the first two minutes, I think,” Findley said. “You aren’t going to win any games if you can’t shoot better than the 20 percent, especially not against a good team like Lubbock Christian. They can shoot from anywhere and you’ve got to be able to match them basket for basket.”

OC had just two players reach double figures in points – McKee, who had 13, and Sydney Hill, who had 11 to go with a team-high seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Gade, in her first OC home game since transferring from Oral Roberts, made her first two 3-point attempts and scored nine points.

Lubbock Christian, meanwhile, had two players with double-doubles – Emily Pool (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Boyles (12 points, 12 rebounds) – and nearly had a third, as Nicole Hampton had 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists. The Lady Chaparrals outrebounded OC 46-35 and shot 53.8 percent from the field (28 of 52).

OC will wrap up its first-semester schedule on Monday afternoon, when the Lady Eagles host defending Heartland Conference champion Texas-Permian Basin. OC beat UTPB in the regular-season finale last season, snapping the Falcons’ 13-game winning streak.