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Eagles shoot poorly; Central Oklahoma takes advantage to down OC 72-58

OC guard Zach Norris looks for an opening while being guarded Tuesday by Central Oklahoma's Jarrod McDaniel.
OC guard Zach Norris looks for an opening while being guarded Tuesday by Central Oklahoma's Jarrod McDaniel.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 19, 2013) – It’s easy to figure out how and why Central Oklahoma mostly cruised to a 72-58 win over Oklahoma Christian in the Eagles’ Nest on Tuesday night.

OC’s jump shots weren’t falling – the Eagles shot 31.4 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from 3-point range – and they weren’t getting to the free-throw line, making just 10-of-15 opportunities. Meanwhile, UCO’s Seth Heckart, Josh Gibbs and Cal Andrews combined to go 10-of-24 from 3-point range.

That sort of math added up to the first loss of the season for OC (3-1) after three impressive performances to open the campaign – not to mention a strong showing in an exhibition game at Oklahoma.

“We shot it really poorly,” OC coach Dan Hays said. “The poor shooting is one thing, but I thought we really let it affect our overall mental attitude. Our mojo wasn’t good. We just weren’t sharp mentally. A lot of it had to do with the job UCO did. I didn’t do a very good job and I thought (UCO coach) Terry (Evans) did a terrific job changing his defenses. We just didn’t react to the situation well.”

UCO (3-1) didn’t look like the team that lost to Southern Nazarene by 11 points in the Bronchos’ most recent game before Tuesday. UCO led nearly all the way and used a 12-0 run in the second half to pull away from the Eagles.

Hays said he saw the defeat coming over the weekend, after the Eagles won by 14 points on Friday at Langston.

“We gave them Saturday off. We had a bad practice Sunday,” Hays said. “We weren’t focused. We were a little better yesterday but that’s a pre-game practice. We’ve just got to grow up and get a little more leadership from some of our older guys.”

OC led only briefly in the opening minutes – after Nick Tate hit his only 3-pointer (in six attempts) and Kendre Talley followed with a layup to make it 5-2. The Bronchos went on an 8-0 run that included 3-pointers by Gibbs (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Heckart (24 points) and never trailed again.

The Eagles tied the game at 17-17 on a basket by Zach Norris with 8:18 left in the first half and had the ball with a chance to take the lead while trailing 24-23 about four minutes later. Willie Harper missed an NBA-length 3-point attempt and UCO closed the half on a 7-2 run.

A basket by John Moon pulled OC within 44-39 with 13:23 left, but consecutive 3-pointers by Andrews, Heckart and Andrews again, followed by a traditional three-point play by Aaron Anderson, gave UCO a 56-39 bulge with 10:39 left.

OC never got that margin below double digits the rest of the game.

“We’ve got to work our way through (adversity), realize what we did wrong and try to get back on the winning side,” Hays said. “These are tough games and this is a tough schedule we’re playing. It’s what we need.”

Talley scored 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting while Harper also scored 15, going 6-of-20 from the field. The Eagles committed only seven turnovers but just had trouble putting the ball into the basket, while UCO shot 47.3 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3-point range.

Anderson had 13 points and six assists for the Bronchos while Andrews finished with 12 points.

OC still leads the overall series against UCO by a 29-10 count.