Sports Friday Correspondent
It might have been cold and blustry with snow on the ground outdoors, but the weather conditions didn't keep the Rogers State Hillcats from lighting up a huge bonfire Thursday night at the Claremore Expo Center.
They toasted Saint Gregory’s, 74-43, in a Sooner Athletic Conference women’s basketball game.
Jumping out, 11-0 , and holding a 26-5 edge before the visitors' second field goal in the game, it didn't take RSU long to ignite the flames. Twelve Hillcats scored, with four of them reaching double figures.
Sparked by having an early techical foul called on her, junior forward Azzie Knox paced the balanced Hillcat offense with 14 points.
"I thought I was fouled, and when I turned to go back down the court, I told the referee he needed to make those calls,” Knox said. “I was shocked when he hit me with the techical. What made it so bad was having to take a seat on the bench."
Apparently her short spell on the sideline provided some motivation for the whole Hillcat squad. On Knox's return, RSU went on a 27-3 run.
"Yes, it certainly motivated me," Knox said. "I decided to not worry about getting fouled and just play our game. It all starts with taking care of the ball, and we did that tonight."
RSU committed 11 turnovers compared to 21 for the visitors from Shawnee.
"Michael (assistant coach Wells) and I challenged the girls to not overlook them," said head coach Amy Williams referring to the 3-15 Saint Gregory’s team that had lost 10 straight coming into Thursday night’s game. "To tell the truth, as coaches, we were a little concerned about the risk of our team being overconfident. We talked to the girls about it as much as possible."
Any issues of overconfidence quickly disappeared with RSU's opening play.
The team's offense was in high gear as the 42-16 halftime score indicates. The pace evened out in the second half with each team adding 20 more points apiece. By then, both sides and all the fans present knew it was just a matter of running out the clock.
Natalie Melendez scored 17 points to pace Saint Gregory’s and earn game honors.
On the opposite end of the court, Knox received the backing of Breck Muller with 12 points, Tasha Parker with 11, and Katie Rice with 10.
With Yoda Woods playing big under the basket, RSU pulled down 45 rebounds compared to 28 by the Lady Cavaliers. Woods grabbed 13 rebounds. No other player on either side had more than five.
The victory improved RSU to 11-9 for the year and 7-5 in conference play. Saint Gregory’s dropped to 3-16 and 1-11.
RSU 74, SAINT GREGORY’S 43
Saint Gregory’s 16 27 — 43
Rogers State 42 32 — 74
Saint Gregory’s — Melendez 17, Mattox 10, Hill 6, Wolf 3, Klick 3, Vanderburg 2, Jack 1, Provost 1.
Rogers State — Knox 14, Muller 12, Parker 11, Rice 10, Nelms 6, Y.Woods 5, Peterson 4, Owen 4, KnifeChief 3, Jasper 2, Knowles 2, Taylor 1.