Special to The Sun
Central Oklahoma built a 20-point halftime lead and hung on down the stretch to knock off No. 8-ranked Washburn 72-67 Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House.
The Bronchos never trailed and roared out to a huge 42-22 halftime cushion, but the defending Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association champion Ichabods rallied to within three in the final minutes before UCO closed out the stunning upset.
The win ended a frustrating four-game home losing streak — all by three points or less — and improved the Bronchos to 4-8 overall and 2-2 in the league. WU dropped to 8-2 and 1-1.
“That was a huge win for us and I’m proud of the way our guys battled today,” UCO coach Terry Evans said. “We really played well in the first half and then made enough plays at the end to beat a great team.”
The Bronchos shot a sizzling 61.5 percent (16-of-26) in the first 20 minutes to seize their commanding lead, but hit only 7-of-24 shots (29.2 percent) in the final 20 minutes as WU rallied. A 45-35 rebounding advantage helped UCO offset 55.6-percent (20-of-36) shooting from the foul line.
Josh Gibbs led the with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Spencer Smith added 15 points and seven rebounds, while June Carter had 13 points, five boards and two blocked shots.
The Bronchos did a great defensive job on WU’s Will McNeill, the league’s leading scorer with a 20.6 average. McNeill was just 1-of-13 from the field and finished with 14 points because of a12-of-14 showing from the line
The Ichabods opened the second half with a 10-1 spurt to quickly trim UCO’s 20-point bulge to 11 (43-32), though the Bronchos still appeared safe when a short Josh Davis jumper made it 58-46 at the 9:11 mark.
Nine straight points got WU within 58-55 just two minutes later, but UCO made six straight free throws to re-establish a seven-point lead at 67-60 with 3:32 remaining.
It was a 70-66 lead at 1:36 after two Washburn foul shots and the Ichabods got the ball right back on a turnover. The Bronchos survived three missed shots before Jamell Cormier was fouled, with the senior guard making one of two charity tosses at 0:44 for a 71-66 lead.
McNeill made one of two free throws at 0:39 to make it 71-67 and UCO missed two freebies at 0:32 to give WU a chance. Again the Ichabods missed three shots — with Carter blocking one of them — before Cal Andrews was fouled at 0:09.
The freshman hit one of two free throws to make it 72-67 and Smith rebounded a last-second 3-pointer by McNeill to seal the deal.
UCO never trailed after Carter and Gibbs opened the game with back-to-back layups and the Bronchos had a double digit lead at 16-6 on a Smith layup.
The Bronchos kept piling it on and the advantage reached 20 at 38-18 on Christian Huffman’s steal and breakaway dunk. UCO’s lead peaked at 22 (42-20) on Smith’s layup off a Gibbs steal before WU scored the final bucket to make it 42-22 at the break.
UCO Women fall to No. 6 Lady Blues
A late Central Oklahoma rally came up short and the Bronchos fell to No. 6-ranked Washburn 62-58 in a hard-fought Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association battle Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House.
UCO trimmed a 12-point second-half deficit to three seven seconds remaining, but the Bronchos couldn’t come up with a turnover and the defending league champion Lady Blues held on.
Savannah Hamilton led UCO with 14 points and a pair of blocked shots, while Britney Morgan had 10 points and Chelsi Dennis nine off the bench.
The Bronchos shot just 37.3 percent (19-of-51) from the field, including only 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from 3-point range. UCO also committed 12 of its 19 turnovers in the second half in falling to 8-4 on the season and 1-3 in the league.
WU had a 12-point lead at 56-44 with 8:04 left to play before the Bronchos started their comeback, getting back-to-back layups from Dennis and Hamilton along with two Morgan free throws in a 6-0 spurt that made it 56-50 at the 6:14 mark.
Stifling defensive pressure gave UCO several opportunities to cut into that lead even more, but the Bronchos couldn’t take advantage and the Lady Blues went up by eight (61-53) with 1:13 left.
A Morgan 3-pointer cut the deficit to 61-56 at 0:50 and UCO forced a turnover with 20 seconds left, though the Bronchos couldn’t get off a shot until Hamilton was fouled at 0:07.
The senior guard made both foul shots to make it 61-58, but UCO couldn’t force a quick turnover and Washburn made one of two free throws at 0:06 to clinch the win.
The Lady Blues jumped out to a quick 18-8 lead in the game before UCO battled back, pulling within one (29-28) by intermission on Jordan Ward’s driving layup with 14 seconds left.
Rachel New opened the second half with a deep 3-pointer from the corner to put the Bronchos head 31-29 and it was a 33-32 lead after two Alyssa Fuxa free throws, but WU responded with a 12-0 run to take the lead for good at 44-33 before holding off UCO down the stretch.
The Bronchos go on the road for two MIAA road games next week, traveling to Truman State Thursday and Lindenwood Saturday.