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Lady Eagles win 6th straight conference game, shutting down McMurry

Sydney Hill goes up for a layup on Thursday night during OC's win at McMurry. Hill scored 10 points for the Lady Eagles.
Sydney Hill goes up for a layup on Thursday night during OC's win at McMurry. Hill scored 10 points for the Lady Eagles.

ABILENE, Texas (Jan. 30, 2014) – Oklahoma Christian wasn’t hitting many shots on Thursday night at Hershel Kimbrell Arena, but the Lady Eagles more than made up for any shooting woes with stellar defense.

The Lady Eagles limited McMurry (Texas) to 21 percent shooting and beat the War Hawks 54-43, posting a season-best effort in points allowed and holding the Heartland Conference’s third-leading scorer, Keisha Collins, to just five points, more than 12 under her average.

OC (11-7, 7-4 Heartland) has won five straight games overall and six straight conference games after starting league play 1-4. With the exception of league-leading Lubbock Christian (Texas), OC is the Heartland’s hottest team. A win Saturday at St. Edward’s (Texas) would vault the Lady Eagles into a tie for third place in the league standings.

“We were struggling on the road early (in the season), but maybe it paid off a little bit in that we’ve had that experience of playing on the road so much in the first semester,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “Maybe we’re learning a little bit to be patient and let the game come to us and not force things too much on the road.”

Sydney Hill and Krista Stevens scored 10 points each to lead OC. Stevens, who had eight rebounds, and fellow senior Roz Hamilton, who grabbed 11 rebounds – her second straight game with double-digit boards – made numerous hustle plays to keep OC ahead for the final 28 minutes.

“They did and I hope they’re not too sore to play on Saturday,” Findley said. “Krista is all over the floor all the time and Roz is just a great anticipator of passes and shooting the gap on people. They both made some really strong plays when we seemed to be struggling. They were the seniors that said, ‘C’mon you guys, we’re going to carry you through this. Let’s go!’ I was real proud of their effort.”

OC shot just 32.2 percent but grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, helping the Lady Eagles post a whopping 57-37 edge on the boards. Of OC’s first 13 points in the second half, 11 came on second chances.

Collins scored her only basket during the game’s first 90 seconds, finishing 1-of-9 from the field. She hit three free throws in the final minutes, after the result had effectively been decided.

“Once again, the girls followed the plan very well and it worked,” Findley said. “We were able to kind of take Keisha Collins out of the game and that’s who their offense runs through. … She’s a great scorer. She’s a great athlete. You really have to pay attention to her all the time and the girls did a great job of teaming up on her and taking her out of the game.”

The Lady Eagles took control of the game with an 8-0 run midway through the first half, during which Hamilton scored four of her six points. Her put-back with 5:53 left before halftime made it 21-15 and the Lady Eagles led 27-24 at halftime.

A 3-pointer by Tory Salazar pulled McMurry (2-16, 2-10) within 38-36 with 10:24 left, but the War Hawks managed only one more field goal the rest of the game. Aisha Martin answered with a put-back basket for OC, then Logan McKee and Mica Havens each hit a 3-pointer. Havens, who scored seven points, capped a 10-2 run with a 2-point basket to give the Lady Eagles a 48-38 lead with 7:51 left.

OC eventually led by as many as 14 points before settling for the 11-point win. Salazar led McMurry with 10 points.

McMurry’s 43 points were the fewest allowed by OC since the Lady Eagles won 86-43 last Feb. 28 over Oklahoma Panhandle State. The Lady Eagles are 4-0 against the War Hawks since OC joined the Heartland before the 2012-13 season.