Photo by Nathan Kelly
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Oklahoma City University triumphed 74-60 over top-ranked Lubbock Christian (Texas) on Saturday at Abe Lemons Arena in the NAIA women's basketball game of the week.
Katie Hall, a senior from Hazelton, Idaho, boosted the Stars with 19 points, 14 rebounds, two blocked shots and four steals. Third-ranked OCU improved to 18-2, 10-0 in the Sooner Athletic Conference while increasing the NAIA's longest current win streak to 17.
Emily Atkins and Courtney Wilson led Lubbock Christian with 12 points each. The Lady Chaps moved to 21-2, 8-2 in SAC play. OCU swept the regular-season series between the league foes as the Stars prevailed over then No. 1-ranked Lubbock Christian 79-68 on Jan. 10 in Lubbock, Texas. The Stars increased its season record against ranked NAIA teams to 6-0.
Hall sank 9 of 10 free throws as OCU combined to sink 16 out of 21 free-throw attempts. Each of Hall's free throws came in the second period as the Stars dropped in 15 out of 18 second-half free-throw tries. Hall recorded her team-high eighth double-double this season.
"They really stepped up and made free throws when it counted," OCU coach Latricia Trammell said. "We picked up our defense at the end. We executed our game plan. I was really proud of the team effort and the desire to compete."
Jessica Lankston added four free throws in the second half as well. Lankston, a senior from Kansas, Okla., produced 15 points, four rebounds, six assists and six steals for OCU. Cara Pugh, a junior from Oklahoma City, added 15 points off the bench on 6-of-10 shooting from the field for the Stars.
OCU's Lauren Gober, a senior from Newcastle, Okla., added 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Gober hit two treys to increase her OCU career record total to 276 3-pointers.
The Stars finished the game on a 10-0 run to hold off Lubbock Christian. Hall sank four free throws at the start of that final OCU surge. Gober and Lankston pocketed steals.
Lankston had a theft, then fed Gober on a transition bucket that put OCU up 70-60 with 1:10 left. Lankston hit all four of her free-throw tries in the final 35 seconds to help seal the OCU victory.
"Jessica is a blue-collar worker," Trammell said of Lankston. "She does the little things you just can't coach. She had the big steal and layup at the end. That's just Jessica. She has that desire. She is a great leader."
Atkins hit a free throw that cut OCU's lead to 64-60 at the 2:31 mark. Lubbock Christian completed a rally from 18 points down to take a 53-51 edge.
Kelsey Canavan ignited a 10-0 Lady Chap uprising with a jumper in the paint and a free throw. Atkins nailed two free throws, then Kelsey Hoppel's 3-pointer tied the game 51-51 with 10:09 to go. Canavan added free throws with 9:39 showing. Lankston responded with a rebound, then a drive into the lane while being outnumbered for a breakaway layup.
Haley Burton tied the game once more for LCU 55-55 on a transition lay-in, but Hall had a free throw to keep OCU in the lead. Lubbock Christian cut OCU's lead to one point twice, the second time on Nicole Hampton's layup for a 60-59 OCU edge with 3:39 to go.
OCU seized early momentum by scoring the game's first nine points. OCU hit 4 of its first 7 shots from the floor, while Lubbock Christian committed six turnovers and missed two field-goal attempts in the contest's first 4:09. Hampton scored Lubbock Christian's first points on free throws at the 16:16 mark. Pugh's jumper gave the Stars a 39-21 advantage - OCU's biggest of the tilt - with 2:17 remaining in the first half.
The Stars shot 54.8 percent from the field in the first half, but that figure dipped to 37 percent in the second.
OCU continues league play with a clash against Mid-America Christian at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Gaulke Activity Center in Oklahoma City.