By Murray Evans
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (March 7, 2013) – Oklahoma Christian’s primary goal in its first-round National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region tournament game was to spread the playing time and points around against an outmatched foe.
Mission accomplished. All 15 OC players scored and none played more than 19:42 as the Lady Eagles routed Ecclesia (Ark.) 91-46 on Thursday afternoon at the Mueller Sports Center.
OC (17-11) advanced to a 2 p.m. Friday semifinal game against a familiar foe, Heartland Conference rival McMurry (Texas), which received a first-round bye despite losing twice to the Lady Eagles by double digits during the regular season.
“That’s what I was hoping for, to be able to play everybody quite a few minutes and get everybody involved, and we were able to do that,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “Everything was balanced. We had too many turnovers (14) and were getting kind of loose with the ball. That can’t happen tomorrow.”
The Lady Eagles struggled with their shooting early and trailed Ecclesia (5-25) 13-12 with 13:28 left in the first half. OC soon got untracked, though, and scored 36 of the final 41 points of the half to take a commanding 48-18 lead.
If the Royals had any chance at a rally, OC snuffed it out quickly, scoring the first seven points of the second half. Katy O’Steen’s put-back with 18:23 left made it 55-18 and from that point, only the Lady Eagles’ final margin of victory was in doubt against an Ecclesia team that suited up only seven players.
Rather than sit on the lead, OC’s reserves kept pushing. Mica Havens scored eight points about five minutes of action and Lindsey Larkin swished a 3-pointer in the final minutes.
“Mica has her moments where she can turn it on,” Findley said.
Perhaps most important, with OC facing a possible three-games-in-three-days stretch, Findley was able to rest her starters. O’Steen and Roz Hamilton, OC’s two leading scorers, exited the game with 10:38 left.
O’Steen scored 13 points and was the only OC player to reach double figures. She increased her career total to 1,349 points, moving past Angie Cook (1986-1990) and current University of Oklahoma assistant coach Jan Ross (1982-1986) into 15th place on OC’s all-time scoring list.
Contributions came from throughout OC’s lineup. Hamilton scored nine points, while Madison Middle, Logan McKee, Aisha Martin and Havens had eight points each and Middle added seven rebounds, as did Skyler Newberry. Andee Wayne grabbed 10 rebounds and Sydney Hill recorded seven assists. OC shot 41.8 percent from the field (33 of 79) while limiting Ecclesia to 26.7 percent (16 of 60).
OC hit 12-of-32 from 3-point range (37.5 percent) while the Royals made just one 3-point shot in 13 attempts.
“To get to play in the gym and shoot in the gym, before you have to play those tougher teams, is good,” Findley said. “You have a little more experience with the shooting background.”
Tabitha Nelson was the only Ecclesia player to reach double figures, scoring 11 points.