A rebound and basket by Ollie Bailey at the buzzer allowed Oklahoma City University to escape with an 83-81 Sooner Athletic Conference basketball win over Rogers State Saturday night before 1,081 fans at the Claremore Expo.
Matt Guymon's NBA range 3-point bucket with 16 seconds left had tied the score at 81. RSU, down by as many as 11 points early in the second half, then missed a similar shot with the Stars controlling the rebound.
OCU, defending national champion and ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, got the ball to Willie Irick at mid-court and he went straight to the basket. His layup failed to drop in, but Bailey was right there to follow in the deciding points.
"The sun still came up the next morning, but there for a time I wasn't sure if it was going to or not," Hillcat head coach Wren Baker Monday while reflecting on the game. "We are going to live through it and will get better because of it.
"Our kids played hard and I am definitely proud of them, but as expected, they were hurting and had some sad faces in the locker room."
Talking about the closing seconds, Baker said: "We had to pick our poison. Guymon was left open out front because we were double-teaming Bailey under the basket. No one player can stop him."
It should have been the right move. The 6-7 senior Bailey already had a game-high 21 points while Guymon, a 6-4 sophomore reserve, had taken only one shot in the game.
“With the score tied, we were going to play for the final shot. Our mistake was we took the shot six seconds too soon," Baker said. "It was a mistake, but it is a mistake we can learn from."
The Stars hit 30 of 56 from the field for 54 percent and the Hillcats hit 29 of 58. Both teams had seven 3-point baskets (OCU on 19 shots and RSU 18), and each hit 16 free throws on 20 attempts.
The taller visitors held a 31-26 rebounding edge.
OCU, on top most of the first half, led 44-40 at halftime. In the first three minutes of the second half, the Stars appeared ready to take control. A steal and layup by Richard Worthy had the Stars up, 53-42, at 17:03.
Then the Hillcats started climbing back. Roderick Rodgers forced a turnover and raced in for a Hillcat bucket and a tie score at 62 at 9:45. On RSU's next trip down court, a goaltending call went against OCU and the Hillcats had a 64-62 lead.
Five more ties and three lead changes followed before the final buzzer.
Eric Young used the free-throw line to direct RSU's uphill climb. Before Rodgers tied the score at 62, Young had the seven previous points. He hit four foul shots along with a 3-pointer.
OCU remained undefeated in SAC action at 2-0 and improved to 4-3 overall. The Hillcats are 1-1 and 6-2.
RSU’s women discovered life in the Sooner Athletic Conference can be a bumpy road at times.
This was driven home as they fell, 85-53, to Oklahoma City.
Both teams entered the contest with 4-3 overall records and looking to remain unbeaten in conference play. It was the second SAC outing for each.
The Stars, ranked No. 12 in the preseason NAIA poll, started fast and never looked back. It was 9-0 before Hayley KnifeChief scored RSU's first basket 3 1/2 minutes into the game.
The first-year Hillcats, with a roster of all underclassmen, could not match up with the senior-laden and more experienced visitors.
Romana Vynuchalova, a 6-4 senior from Bratisalava, Slovakia, by way of Penn State, towered over the other players. Still RSU freshman Katie Rice, six inches shorter, more than held her own against her.
Vynuchalova scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. Rice finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
The difference came in the overall picture. Three other Stars joined Vynuchalova in double figures with Laura Duncan having a game-high 17. KnifeChief"s nine points was high behind Rice.
The Hillcats suffered through a 30-percent shooting performance, 17 of 57, while OCU hit 35 of 69 for 51 percent.
After doubling the score in the first half, 38-16, the Stars opened the second half with a steady point parade. Getting baskets from four different players, OCU wasted little time increasing its edge to 30 points.
OCU is 4-3 overall and 2-0. RSU is 4-3 and 1-1.
OCU 83, RSU 81
Oklahoma City 44 39 — 83
Rogers State 40 41 — 81
Oklahoma City — Bailey 23, Taylor 18, Worthy 15, Irick 11, Guymon 6, Arbet 4, Kentle 4, Dunbar 2.
Rogers State — Young 19, Reynolds 17, Rodgers 16, Donlon 11, Spicer 7, Coats 5, Krueger 4, Rutherford 2.
OCU 85, RSU 53
Oklahoma City 38 47 — 85
Rogers State 16 37 — 53
Oklahoma City — Duncan 17, Beybeyah 14, Vynuchalova 13, Martin 10, Johnson 9, Brown 8, Diabate 6, Gaddies 4, Hardin 2, McConnell 2.
Rogers State — Rice 12, KnifeChief 9, Y.Woods 8, B.Woods 6, Peterson 6, Owen 4, Parker 4,Taylor 2, Coleman 2.
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