Lubbock Christian rallies, pulls away late to beat Eagles 87-77

OC's Willie Harper shoots against Lubbock Christian on Saturday while being guarded by the Chaparrals' Jeremy Ford. Harper scored 19 points for the Eagles.
OC's Willie Harper shoots against Lubbock Christian on Saturday while being guarded by the Chaparrals' Jeremy Ford. Harper scored 19 points for the Eagles.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 14, 2013) – On paper, it initially was tough to figure out how Oklahoma Christian didn’t win on Saturday afternoon against Lubbock Christian (Texas).

OC had four double-figure scorers, shot 50 percent from the field and took care of the basketball, committing only 11 turnovers. But Lubbock Christian outperformed the Eagles in all those categories, allowing the Chaparrals to rally in the second half and pull away for an 87-77 win in the Eagles’ Nest.

Lubbock Christian (5-2, 1-1 Heartland Conference) had five double-figure scorers, shot 50.8 percent and had just 10 turnovers – while also outrebounding OC 36-27. OC (4-5, 0-1) didn’t help itself at the free-throw line, finishing 14 of 22 (63.6 percent).

“Statistically, we shot 50 percent, but we never could get a key stop,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “We’ve just got to be able to dig our heels in and do a better job when it counts defensively. We’re still very young but that excuse can only take us for so long.”

OC wings Nick Tate and Willie Harper played solid games – Tate finishing with 20 points and four assists and hitting 3 of 5 3-point attempts, Harper scoring 19 and going 5 of 9 from behind the arc. Jordan VanDeKop added 15 points and Kendre Talley had 14 points and four assists.

But defensively, the Eagles struggled, particularly in the second half, when they surrendered 51 points, allowing Lubbock Christian to complete a rally from an 11-point first-half deficit and build a double-digit lead of its own.

“We’re going to have to get better defensively,” Hays said. “We’re going to have to simplify some things on (offense). We’re going to keep working at it.”

Harper had two 3-pointers and Tate added another as OC raced to a 17-6 lead in the first seven minutes. Another 3-pointer by Harper put OC’s lead at 22-11 with 11:07 left in the first half.

But the Chaparrals began chipping away, closing the gap to 41-36 by halftime. Every time OC tried to rebuild its lead in the second half, Lubbock Christian had an answer.

OC led 53-46 with 15 minutes left after a monster dunk by John Moon and 55-48 with 13:49 left, when Tate scored. But the Eagles went more than four minutes without another basket, allowing Lubbock Christian to go on a 12-2 run and surge ahead.

The Chaparrals took their first lead since the opening minutes on a 3-pointer by Tyler Rogers that made it 58-57 with 11:02 left. They never trailed again.

Talley hit 1 of 2 free throws with 7:36 left to make it 62-62 with 7:36 left, but Lubbock Christian scored 14 of the next 17 points and led 76-65 after a 3-pointer by Anthony Brancato with 3:28 left. The Chaparrals went 11 of 12 from the line in the final 1:13 to seal the win.

A.J. Luckey scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half for the Chaparrals. Rogers led Lubbock Christian with 17 points and Eli Baker had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Quay Johnson (13 points) and Isaac Cardona (11 points) also scored in double figures for the Chaparrals, who went 18 of 20 from the line (90 percent).

“It’s discouraging, but it’s my job to pick these guys up and we’re going to work on it,” Hays said. “We just overall have to play better. That’s my job.”

OC will wrap up its first-semester schedule on Monday, hosting Texas-Permian Basin.