By Murray Evans
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (March 8, 2013) – Just barely, Mid-America Christian’s one-man show proved a bit too much for Oklahoma Christian to overcome on Friday night.
MACU guard Charlie Shorter poured in 44 points as the Evangels upset OC 89-87 in the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region semifinals at the Mueller Sports Center.
Shorter missed a free throw with six seconds left, giving the Eagles a chance to win, but Brandon Troutman missed a 3-point attempt from the left wing at the buzzer that would have given OC coach Dan Hays his 700th career college basketball coaching win in dramatic fashion.
OC (17-11) lost for just the second time in 22 all-time meetings with MACU (16-11) despite a monumental effort by senior center Will Reinke, who had 26 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots. He matched his career highs in the latter two categories.
The Eagles now must wait to find out if they will receive an at-large bid to the NCCAA Championship next week in Winona Lake, Ind. MACU, which lost by 24 points to OC during the regular season, will play McMurry (Texas) on Saturday for the regional title.
“It was a tough loss,” Hays said. “I thought we played a really good second half. We’ve just got to make more baskets.
“We’ve got good guys who are hurting right now. We’ve just got to realize that was a great game. It’s a privilege to represent Oklahoma Christian. It’s a privilege to play this great game. I’m just at a loss for words right now.”
Shorter went 15-of-33 from the field and often buried shots despite an OC defender having a hand in his face. He added eight rebounds and five assists as MACU outrebounded the taller Eagles 53-49.
“We worked really hard on defending Charlie Shorter,” Hays said. “We just couldn’t slow him down. We played everybody we had on him. He didn’t shoot 50 percent, but what a terrific player. He put on a one-man show.”
OC trailed for much of the game. MACU led 40-31 at halftime and pushed its advantage to 48-33 after a runner by Shorter with 17:54 left. The Eagles responded with a 10-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Kendre Talley, who finished with a career-high 27 points, and the game was back on.
OC pulled even at 59-59 with 11:24 left on another 3-pointer by Talley, but MACU rebuilt its lead to 76-69 on a 3-pointer by Shorter with 7:02 left. The Eagles came back again, using a 10-2 run to take their only lead of the second half. Reinke, who went 14-of-15 from the line, made two free throws with 3:07 left to put the Eagles up 79-78.
Josh Smith’s tip-in with 2:45 left put the Evangels back up and Shorter followed with two more baskets to make it 84-79 MACU with 1:09 left.
MACU went 5-of-10 from the line after that, just enough to hold off one more furious OC rally. Talley brought OC within 88-87 with a three-point play with 9.7 seconds left.
MACU’s Angelo Lewis fell down on the inbounds play on the Evangels’ final possession, but no walk was called, forcing Reinke to commit his fifth foul and send Shorter to the line. Shorter made the first free throw but missed the second. Willie Harper rebounded for OC and the Eagles rushed the ball upcourt. Harper, guarded, passed the ball to Troutman, who had a good look at the basket but didn’t hit the shot.
“I thought it was in,” Hays said.
OC finished 7-of-32 from 3-point range (21.9 percent).
“That’s kind of been our Achilles’ heel all year long,” Hays said. “I thought they were really good shots in the second half.”
Nick Tate scored 13 points and Eric Randall added 11 for OC. Lewis had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Josh Minner had 10 points for MACU, which had three players foul out, many trying to guard the 6-foot-10 Reinke.
If OC’s season is done, Reinke finished his career with 1,467 points in three seasons, ranking him No. 21 on the program’s all-time scoring list. He also recorded 212 blocked shots, second on OC’s career list.
OC’s only other loss to MACU came during the 2010-11 season.