OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 26, 2013) – In a showdown between two of the best post players in the Heartland Conference, Oklahoma Christian’s Will Reinke had the upper hand and, as a result, so did the Eagles.
Reinke posted his eighth double-double of the season, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds, five steals and three assists as OC beat St. Mary’s (Texas) 73-68 on Saturday on Dan Hays Court in the Eagles’ Nest.
Perhaps as important, Reinke limited the conference’s third-leading scorer, three-time first-team all-conference selection Kevin Kotzur, to seven points and seven rebounds. Kotzur, who had failed to reach double figures in scoring in only four of his previous 101 college games, went 3-of-11 from the field and didn’t score in the second half.
OC (12-6) won its fourth straight game, leading for the final 30 minutes. The Eagles were up by as many as 18 points in the second half before St. Mary’s (12-5) rallied within four points in the final seconds. Eric Randall and Kendre Talley both hit a pair of free throws in the final 19.5 seconds to clinch the win for the Eagles.
“Will was outstanding,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “I thought the difference in the game was the defense played by our four bigs – Will, Eric, Derek (Johnson) and Josh (Faurot). They’re an inside-out team and we made them play outside. They’re good outside and they made some shots, but we met all our goals. It was a terrific effort.”
Reinke struggled with his shot early – he finished 6-of-15 from the field – and the Rattlers jumped to leads of 6-0 and 11-4, the latter with 12:53 left in the first half.
Nick Tate hit a 3-pointer for OC about a minute later to start a 21-2 run that spanned more than eight minutes. By the time Johnson hit two free throws at the 4:36 mark, OC was up 25-13 and the Eagles never trailed again.
OC led 34-23 at halftime and extended its advantage to 54-36 as Johnson, who had 10 points, scored on a drive and nifty reverse lay-in with 9:16 left.
In an attempt to rally, St. Mary’s began using a full-court press somewhat effectively and gradually sliced into the Eagles’ lead. By the 5:04 mark, OC’s lead was back in single digits at 59-50.
Brandon Troutman capped a 3-for-5 3-point shooting day with his final trey with 3:42 left, putting OC up 65-55. The Eagles went 8-of-10 from the free-throw line after that.
A 3-pointer by Moses Sundufu, who led the Rattlers with 19 points, pulled St. Mary’s within 69-65 with 32.1 seconds left, but Mark Simmons turned the ball over on the Rattlers’ next possession, ending their rally.
“It was a really good week for us,” Hays said. “These wins are good. People need to understand – these are good teams that we’re beating. We’re starting to play better, but next week will be a big test.”
The Eagles will travel to play the top two teams in the conference standings, Newman (Kan.) and Arkansas-Fort Smith, next Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Reinke lifted his career point total to 1,266, moving him past Reggie Richardson (1990-1992) into 24th place on OC’s career scoring chart. Reinke needs 67 points to tie No. 23 Danny Brown (1993-1997).
Besides Reinke and Johnson, Troutman reached double figures, scoring 10 points. Talley added seven points and seven assists and Eric Randall scored eight points. The eagles shot 45.1 percent from the field (23 of 51) and 82.1 percent from the free-throw line (23 of 28).
For St. Mary’s, joining Sundufu in double figures were Isaiah Matthews (12 points) and Mark Simmons (11 points). The Rattlers shot just 12 free throws, making nine (75 percent) and shot 40 percent from the field (26 of 65).