Special to The Sun
Olivia Mason came up big in the final 20 seconds to cap a strong second half that sparked Central Oklahoma to a 62-60 come-from-behind victory over Missouri Southern Wednesday night at Hamilton Field House.
The freshman forward made a steal near half court with 20 seconds left and the Bronchos protecting a 60-59 lead, then swished two free throws after being fouled at 0:18 to make it 62-59.
The Lions were fouled on a 3-point shot with 2.9 seconds left, but Shawnee Phillips missed two of the three foul shots and Mason rebounded the final one to secure the upset.
Mason scored all eight of her points and pulled down nine of her game-high 11 rebounds in the second half as UCO rallied from a nine-point deficit. Jill Bryan led a balanced attack with 13 points, while Britney Morgan added 12 points and a season-high eight assists.
The Bronchos improved to 8-5 on the season and 3-3 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, while MSSU dropped to 9-3 and 3-2.
“That was a big win for us,” head coach Guy Hardaker said. “I got after the girls pretty good at halftime and they responded in the second half. We did a much better job rebounding and made some big plays on both ends of the court.”
Central Oklahoma outrebounded the taller Lions 22-15 in the second half and forced 15 turnovers to pull off the win despite shooting just 28.6 percent (8-of-28) in the final 20 minutes.
The Bronchos trailed 38-31 at intermission and MSSU scored the opening bucket of the second half to make it 40-31 before UCO started its rally.
Julia Mason drove inside for a layup to ignite an 11-1 run that Morgan ended with 3-pointer from the wing to put the Bronchos on top 42-41. The Lions scored five unanswered points to regain a 46-42 lead at the 13:52 mark, but UCO responded with a 9-0 spurt.
Bryan started it with a steal and fast-break layup, Olivia Mason tied it with a short jumper and Morgan put the Bronchos ahead with a free throw at 11:46. Haley Weathers made four straight foul shots to cap the run and give UCO a 51-46 advantage with 10:23 left.
The lead peaked at six (56-50) with 5:47 remaining, but the Lions came back to tie it at 57-all with 2:30 left.
Julia Mason broke that at 1:17 on a nifty back-door layup off a Morgan feed and it was tied again at 59 after a MSSU bucket at :54. Bryan snapped that tie by making one of two free throws with 45 seconds left to set up Olivia Mason's game-ending heroics.
The Bronchos continue a four-game homestand Saturday, hosting Southwest Baptist at 1:30 p.m.
In the mens contest, a buzzer-beating shot to end the first half put Missouri Southern on top and Central Oklahoma couldn’t catch the hot-shooting Lions in the second half in dropping a 92-79 decision Wednesday night at Hamilton Field House.
The Bronchos overcame a 10-point deficit to grab a 33-32 lead late in the half and had a chance to take the last shot before a turnover enabled MSSU to make a last-second jumper that gave it a 34-33 halftime lead.
The Lions then scored the first five points of the second half and went on to shoot a sizzling 70.8 percent (17-of-24) in the final 20 minutes to hand UCO a rare home loss.
“We didn’t do a very good job defensively and allowed them too many easy shots,” head coach Terry Evans said. “It’s a disappointing loss, but we just have to put it behind us and get ready for Saturday.”
The Bronchos fell to 9-4 on the season and 3-3 in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play headed into Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. home contest with Southwest Baptist. MSSU improved to 10-2 and 4-1.
Josh Gibbs led Central Oklahoma with 23 points and 10 rebounds for his NCAA Division II-leading 13th double-double of the season. Cal Andrews made three 3-pointers in adding 16 points and Aaron Anderson had 15, but the Bronchos gave up 45 points in the paint and got just 14 points from their bench.
UCO fell behind 8-3 quickly before getting five points from Gibbs in a 7-0 run to take a 10-8 lead. The Lions quickly moved back in front and pushed their advantage to 10 (23-13) with 8:10 left.
The Bronchos rallied late, pulling within one at 29-28 on Andrews’ conventional three-point play at the 2:35 mark and going ahead on two Anderson free throws 23 seconds later.
Philip Brown added a free throw at 1:42 to give UCO a 31-29 lead and he answered an MSSU bucket with a short jumper to make it 33-32 before the Lions took the lead for good on Matt Everson’s buzzer-beater.
The deficit grew to 42-35 early in the second half before Jacob Strassle drilled a 3-pointer from the wing, but the Lions responded with five straight points and UCO got no closer than seven the rest of the way.