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Shooting struggles cost Lady Eagles in 50-49 loss at Newman

Senior guard Krista Stevens grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the Lady Eagles in their loss at Newman.
Senior guard Krista Stevens grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the Lady Eagles in their loss at Newman.

WICHITA, Kan. (Feb. 27, 2014) – A missed shot here, a missed free throw there. All of those misses made the difference for Oklahoma Christian on Thursday night in Fugate Gymnasium against Newman (Kan.).

OC shot just 33.3 percent from the field (28.6 percent after halftime) and 55.6 percent from the free-throw line, numbers that allowed Newman to escape with a 50-49 win over the Lady Eagles. Newman (16-10, 13-7 Heartland Conference) beat OC (14-11, 10-8) for the first time in seven meetings between the programs and the Jets extended their winning streak to five games.

Newman, which has qualified for the conference tournament, put a dent in OC’s hopes of finishing in the top four in the league standings, although the Lady Eagles still could do so with wins at Oklahoma Panhandle State on Saturday and at home against St. Edward’s (Texas) on Sunday, if they receive some help.

OC built a 13-point lead early in the second half at 32-19 after scoring the first six points after halftime. But after Andee Wayne’s jumper with 17:28 left, the Lady Eagles had just one field goal during the next 11 minutes, allowing Newman to steadily close the gap.

The Lady Eagles – who hadn’t played in 12 days due to a quirk in the conference schedule – didn’t help themselves at the line, either, going 5-of-12 in the second half.

“I feel like we were a little rusty, not having any game time for the last week and a half,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “Not playing games, you just lose a little bit of timing and your edge. I feel like that’s what we saw tonight. I still thought we were going to win the game, even though we had lost it a little bit, and this is how you get it back, by playing games.”

Newman coach Darin Spence opened the second half with his usual starters on the bench, “and that gave us the lead by letting us run out a little bit,” Findley said. “I think we got a little bit too relaxed after that. We were going down there and missing layups and … going 5-of-12 from the free-throw line, missing here and there, then he puts his starters back in and they start scoring. He had them fired up because he benched them after halftime and he got the result he wanted.”

Newman went ahead for the first time since early in the game at 37-35 on Alexandra Ciabattoni’s basket with 7:02 left. OC regained the lead with 3:01 left when Sydney Hill’s basket made it 45-43, but Ciabattoni – who led the Jets with 18 points – hit two free throws with 1:39 left to give Newman a 48-46 advantage.

Roz Hamilton hit two free throws with 39.2 seconds left to tie the game. At the other end, Newman’s Shekeira Copeland leaned into a defender and scored on a short, but tough, shot with 14.2 seconds left. Copeland finished with 14 points.

Down two, OC opted to try for the lead. Logan McKee missed a 3-point attempt from the corner, but Hill rebounded and was fouled by Ciabattoni while going back up with 4.9 seconds left. Hill made the first free throw, cutting OC’s deficit to 50-49, but missed the second.

Ciabattoni rebounded for Newman and was immediately fouled with 3.2 seconds left. She missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity and OC’s McKenzie Stanford rebounded. OC was granted a timeout with 1.9 seconds left but was given the ball on the baseline, not a few feet up the sideline as Findley had wanted. Thus, OC was able to only manage a 60-foot heave by McKee at the buzzer that fell well short.

Hill scored 14 points and Hamilton added 11 to lead OC. The Lady Eagles outrebounded Newman 49-32, with Krista Stevens grabbing nine and Hamilton eight for OC.

Newman didn’t shoot any better than OC, finishing 18-of-56 from the field (32.1 percent).

“Probably the first half they made more plays than we did,” Findley said. “Even though we were ahead at halftime, I think the 15 turnovers we had in the (first) half were the difference in the game.”