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Hamilton, O’Steen lead OC past Heartland leader St. Mary’s, 83-78

OC forward Roz Hamilton posted her second career double-double, scoring a career-high 24 points and adding 10 rebounds against St. Mary's (Texas).
OC forward Roz Hamilton posted her second career double-double, scoring a career-high 24 points and adding 10 rebounds against St. Mary's (Texas).

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 26, 2013) – Oklahoma Christian rebounded well and hit its free throws against Heartland Conference leader St. Mary’s (Texas) on Saturday afternoon and the Lady Eagles looked like a whole new team.

Roz Hamilton recorded her second career double-double with a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds and Katy O’Steen added 21 points as OC built a double-digit lead midway through the second half and held off the Rattlers 83-78.

St. Mary’s (14-4) had been the Heartland’s hottest team. The Rattlers still technically are undefeated in conference play, since games against OC don’t count in the league standings, but their six-game winning streak is over despite 32 points from Jackie Woods.

Conversely, OC (10-9) was coming off a disappointing 73-71 home loss to Texas A&M International on Thursday. The Lady Eagles, who had had 12 days off before that game, shot just 57.1 percent from the free-throw line. On Saturday, they improved considerably, finishing 28-of-35 from the line, an 80 percent conversion rate. Hamilton (9-of-9) and O’Steen (7-of-8) led the way.

The Lady Eagles also outrebounded St. Mary’s 47-36, grabbing 20 offensive boards in the process.

“That was a really good team we just played,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “Maybe that game Thursday night woke us up a little bit. We had had 12 days off and you really do lose your sharpness when you’re not playing games. … We started that game out bad in the first half and it got worse as the game went on.

“This game was huge in that we bounced back and showed some confidence and didn’t let that game get us down. That was huge in helping us build our confidence and understand what I see in this team, which is that we’re good enough to play this way every night. It’s really frustrating to us when we don’t. Hopefully this will open the gate for us to be a little more consistent and bring that effort every night.”

The teams battled to a 40-40 halftime tie. OC took control with a 15-7 run to open the second half, highlighted by two 3-pointers by Logan McKee and another by Kaitlyn Morris.

St. Mary’s rallied within 55-51, but O’Steen scored from underneath, then hit a 19-foot jumper to start a 12-3 run. OC led 69-56 with 7:37 left after two free throws by Hamilton. St. Mary’s came within six points four times in the final 6:24 and pulled within five at 81-76 with 33.5 seconds left. OC went 9-of-12 from the line during the final 6½ minutes.

“I’m just glad to finish the game by holding them off,” Findley said. “We kept our lead. We had a spell there when we were trying to turn it over and give it back to them, but we recovered from that and were able to hold them off. I’m glad to see us progress in that area.”

Hamilton recorded her first double-double since Nov. 7, 2009, against Huston-Tillotson (Texas). In addition to her scoring and rebounding, she added four assists.

“Roz had a big game,” Findley said. “(Assistant coach) Larry (Truesdell) talked to her yesterday about how she’s a better player when she goes and rebounds. Today she was crashing the boards. She’s just more into the game when she’s thinking about that.”

O’Steen hit both of her 3-point attempts and added four assists, two steals and a key last-minute blocked shot that helped keep the Rattlers at bay. She moved past Erin Wiens (1994-1998) and Ali Griffin (1999-2002) into 19th place on OC’s career scoring list. O’Steen has 1,211 career points.

McKee added 16 points for OC, going 4-of-11 from 3-point range, and added seven rebounds.

Joining Woods in double figures for St. Mary’s was Morgan Pullins (14 points, nine rebounds) and Mariah Lee (10 points).  St. Mary’s shot 38.9 percent from the field in the second half after shooting 54.8 percent in the first half.