BETHANY, Okla. (Nov. 13, 2012) – It had been a long time coming, so when the Oklahoma Christian Eagles finished off an 86-78 win Tuesday night at Southern Nazarene, they made sure to celebrate.
The Eagles plunged into a large contingent of OC students who had traveled to the Sawyer Center and reveled in their team’s first win at SNU since the 2008-09 season. In the 101st meeting between the longtime archrivals, the Eagles secured the win the old-fashioned way, by making clutch shots and burying free throws down the stretch.
Point guard Kendre Talley was the ringleader for OC, scoring 25 points and adding eight rebounds and four assists, while center Will Reinke overcame frequent double teams to finish with 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
OC (3-1) never trailed in the second half and held off a late SNU rally thanks to 18-of-21 free-throw shooting after halftime.
“Kendre is a terrific player,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “I told him, ‘Run your team. Be aggressive,’ and he did. He was terrific. We had four in double figures. I thought Reinke was flawless in the second half. We played a lot of combinations tonight. It was a good win. Southern has got talent.”
The win came three days after the Eagles lost 70-67 at USAO. That loss came after impressive wins over Central Bible (Mo.) and Langston to start the season.
“We had one slip away in Chickasha (at USAO) on Saturday,” Hays said. “Maybe we thought we were invincible and maybe that helped us tonight. This gives us some momentum.”
The Eagles never trailed after the 10:57 mark of the first half, but the Crimson Storm (1-1) never went away. OC built a 12-point lead with 7:20 left in the half, but SNU tied the game at 37-37 by the 2:07 mark before Eric Randall’s basket and a three-point play by Reinke gave the Eagles a 42-37 halftime advantage.
OC stretched its lead to 64-55 after a basket by Reinke with 7:53 left, but the Crimson Storm scored the next seven points, pulling within 64-62 on a put-back by Ryan Aaron with 6:28 left.
Talley fueled a 7-2 run by OC with five points. SNU again rallied to cut the OC lead to 71-67 with 4:04 left before the Storm’s Tyrone Lyons was called for an over-the-back foul while going for an offensive rebound on a free-throw attempt. Lyons slammed the basketball to the floor, drawing a technical foul as well.
Brandon Troutman and Reinke combined to hit the four free throws and SNU came no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Nick Tate scored 11 points for OC, going 3-for-3 from 3-point range, while Devan White added 10 points and Willie Harper had nine on 3-of-6 shooting from behind the arc.
Aaron led SNU with 23 points and went 11-of-13 from the free-throw line. Quan Conner added 18 points and Brady Burford had 12 for the Crimson Storm.
The game was thought to be the earliest ever played between SNU and OC, longtime rivals in the Texoma and Sooner Athletic Conferences until this school year. SNU is now in the Great American Conference while OC is a member of the Heartland Conference. Both universities are in the midst of the NCAA Division II membership process.
The teams have played at least twice each season since SNU began its program during the 1963-64 season, but with the conference changes the Eagles and Crimson Storm will play only once this season.