OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 9, 2013) – When Oklahoma Christian public address announcer Tim Herbel told the crowd at the Eagles’ Nest on Saturday afternoon that Kendre Talley had made OC hoops history by recording a triple-double, the senior point guard let out a roar and flashed a huge smile.
Willie Harper was grinning, too, following a career-best 33-point outing. And freshman forward Jordan VanDeKop had reason to be pleased after pouring in 25 points in his first career game for OC.
The Eagles needed all of those history-making performances to hold off a quality York (Neb.) squad 106-95 before a packed house in the traditional season-opening homecoming game.
Talley had 25 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to post the second triple-double in OC men’s basketball history – and the first since Jan. 26, 1991, when Terrance Gaines had one in a win over Oklahoma Baptist.
“Kendre is just a warrior,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “He’s an unbelievable person and we’re just so glad he’s on our team. He’s going to have a great year. He can’t get a triple-double every night but he can play well every night and I expect him to do that.”
Talley was a whirling dervish on the court, crashing the offensive glass – seven of his rebounds came on that end – and dishing off to Harper, VanDeKop or Nick Tate (13 points) for bucket after bucket. Talley also went 15-of-20 from the free-throw line to help keep York at bay.
He missed his career scoring high by just two points and set a new personal rebounding record.
“It’s a real honor and a blessing at the same time to be able to come out and get a triple-double, especially with the great team I have,” Talley said. “Willie Harper and Nick Tate were both knocking down a whole lot of shots and Jordan VanDeKop and Josh Faurot were slashing real well, so it made it easy for me to get my assists and crash the boards as well.
“There are a lot of great players who’ve come through Oklahoma Christian and it’s an honor to be one of the two who were able to get a triple-double.”
Hays also was effusive in his praise for Harper, who went 13-of-20 from the field, including 7-of-10 from 3-point range, and VanDeKop, who went 10-of-13 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds, helping OC post a 49-36 advantage on the boards.
“Willie Harper is a talented guy who has waited his turn to be the starter and he’s taken advantage of it,” Hays said. “What he’s doing is taking good shots. They might be long sometimes, but they’re good, balanced shots. As long as he does that, he’s got the green light.”
“Jordan VanDeKop – how about his first game? I told people he reminds me of (former OC All-American) Cory Cole. That’s a big, big name in Eagle history so we’ll wait and see on that legacy.”
York, which won at Southern Nazarene on Friday night, led OC for much of the first half. The Panthers were up 43-34 after two free throws by Remi Mignott with 4:31 left before halftime, but OC closed the half strong.
Talley hit four free throws with 1.4 seconds left in the half after York’s Deon Willis was called for a personal foul, then a technical foul. That gave OC a 52-49 halftime lead and the Eagles opened the second half by scoring the first 13 points to seize control. Back-to-back baskets by Harper put OC ahead 67-52 with 16:53 left.
OC never trailed again, but the Panthers never went away. A put-back by Alec Monaghan with 5:30 left pulled York within 83-80 and drew a roar from the sizable contingent of York fans at the game. The Eagles answered with eight straight points, including a 3-pointer by Harper, to rebuild their lead to 91-80 with 3:34 left.
York came no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“I thought we settled down late in the first half and were able to get some momentum,” Hays said. “Then at halftime were able to talk some things out. I’m really not sure what was the best way to attack these guys. They’re hard to play against. They’re very well-coached. But we did listen at halftime, we talked and we came out and actually made some shots and they missed some shots. That was the bottom line.”
Mike Buffalo led York with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Mignott scored 19 points, Dylan Brewer had 14 and Daymian Marshall added 10 for the Panthers.
OC will host archrival Southern Nazarene on Tuesday. The Eagles won at SNU last season.