BETHANY, Okla. (Nov. 13, 2012) – Oklahoma Christian cut a 21-point second-half deficit to three in the final minutes, but Southern Nazarene held on for a 73-68 win over the Lady Eagles on Tuesday at the Sawyer Center.
SNU (2-0) won its 13th straight game over OC (3-1) thanks in good part to center Annie Kassongo and guard Oumoul Thiam. Thiam poured in 31 points on 13-of-22 shooting and added seven rebounds, while Kassongo broke SNU’s single-game record with 10 blocked shots and added 14 points and 12 rebounds to record a triple-double.
Roz Hamilton led OC with 17 points, going 5-of-9 from 3-point range, but the rest of the Lady Eagles combined to go 2-of-23 from behind the arc. OC also struggled at the free-throw line, finishing 13-of-24.
“We had some good looks in the first five minutes of the game, but we were too pumped up,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “It’s still Southern Nazarene and we want to beat them at their place, but we were too hyped up at the beginning.”
OC led by as many as four points in the early going, taking a 17-13 edge after a free throw by Krista Stevens at the 11:31 mark of the first half. A 9-0 run by SNU gave the Crimson Storm the lead and they extended the margin to 40-31 by halftime.
SNU opened the second half with a 14-3 run and led 59-38 after a 3-pointer by Thiam with 13:16 left. But the Crimson Storm scored only two points during the next eight-plus minutes against OC’s pressure defense and the Lady Eagles came roaring back.
OC pulled within 61-57 on a free throw by Daisha Gonzaque with 5:16 left, but Miranda Taylor’s 3-pointer started a 6-0 spurt by SNU. The Lady Eagles rallied again and a pair of 3-pointers by Hamilton cut SNU’s lead to 69-66 with 54.7 seconds left.
Thiam scored with 38 seconds left, but on OC’s next two possessions, Gonzaque and Hamilton missed shots. Sydney Hill’s steal and layup with 2.1 seconds left pulled OC within 71-68, but Thiam hit two free throws with 1.2 seconds left to seal the win for SNU.
“We were too wound up,” Findley said. “We weren’t thinking straight. We weren’t focused. That happens. You get cold and you kind of get in a hole. I’m just glad we didn’t tank it and we still made that run at the end. I told them to quit looking at the scoreboard and just go play. Play hard. And they did.”
SNU’s much taller squad outrebounded OC by only one, 49-48.
Katy O’Steen had 15 points and six rebounds for the Lady Eagles while Stevens went 3-of-4 from the field and scored 10 points.
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.