Late 3-pointer by Hawaii Pacific sinks Lady Eagles 71-68 in Oahu Classic

McKenzie Stanford (center) goes up for a shot between two Hawaii Pacific defenders on Thursday in Honolulu. Stanford led the Lady Eagles with 16 points.
McKenzie Stanford (center) goes up for a shot between two Hawaii Pacific defenders on Thursday in Honolulu. Stanford led the Lady Eagles with 16 points.

HONOLULU (Nov. 28, 2013) – Oklahoma Christian missed a pair of late 3-point attempts while Hawaii Pacific made one – and that proved to be the difference in an evenly matched game on Thursday.

Brittany Hale was the hero for Hawaii Pacific, as her 3-pointer with 19 seconds left lifted the Sea Warriors to a 71-68 win over OC in the Oahu Classic at McKinley High School.

OC (3-4) rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit to take the lead but instead dropped its fourth straight game – and its second straight one-possession decision, with the Lady Eagles’ most recent loss coming by two points at Texas A&M International.

Before Hale’s shot, freshman McKenzie Stanford – who led the Lady Eagles with 16 points – missed a 3-point attempt, and after Hale’s basket, Logan McKee also missed on a potential tying shot from behind the arc with :05 left.

OC quickly fouled Skye Savini, who missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity with :03 left, but all the Lady Eagles could manage after that was a heave from midcourt by Sydney Hill.

The Lady Eagles hurt themselves with 20 turnovers – 15 of them in the first half – and shot just 30.8 percent from the field (20 of 65) in their Hawaiian debut. Roz Hamilton had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds but went 3 of 15 from the field while Hill was 3 of 14.

Led by Savini’s 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting, Hawaii Pacific (1-0) shot 39.7 percent from the field (29 of 73). Morganne Comstock added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Sea Warriors, who went 19-7 last season.

“We played a good team in tough conditions,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “It was warm and humid so we tried to platoon a lot, but fatigue was a factor. The 15 turnovers in the first half left us fighting an uphill battle.

“We cannot seem to find the basket no matter what state we are playing in. If we continue to shoot so poorly it’s going to be a long season.”

OC turnovers on four straight possessions in the first half fueled a 10-0 run by the Sea Warriors that put them ahead 19-9 eight minutes into the game. The Lady Eagles rallied within 25-24 on a 3-pointer by Kaitlyn Morris with 5:48 left in the half, but Hawaii Pacific rebuilt its lead to 34-24 on a jumper by Comstock at the 3:17 mark.

The Lady Eagles closed the half on a 10-4 run to pull within 38-34 at halftime and took their first lead since the opening minutes at 42-40 on a basket by Mica Havens with 16:29 left. The teams traded the lead three times before Stanford’s basket with 7:22 left put OC ahead 57-56.

Laken McClelland answered with a 3-pointer 16 seconds later to give Hawaii Pacific the lead and the Sea Wolves never trailed again.

Down 66-60 with 5:26 left, OC went on an 8-2 run and tied the game at 68-68 on a pair of free throws by McKee with 2:09 left, but those proved to be the Lady Eagles’ final points.

McKee finished with 12 points for OC, which will play Chaminade (Hawaii) on Friday at 9 p.m. Central time.