Special to The Sun
Britney Morgan scored 19 of her career-high 23 points in the second half to carry Central Oklahoma to a big come-from-behind 88-79 victory over Lincoln Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House.
The Bronchos overcame a nine-point second-half deficit in snapping a frustrating 10-game losing streak, with Morgan hitting two straight 3-pointers in an 18-6 run that put UCO in front.
Coach Guy Hardaker's squad pulled away in the final four minutes and outscored the Blue Tigers 36-18 the last 11 minutes of the game to win going away. The Bronchos improved to 9-12 on the season and 2-11 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
"We've lost a lot of tough games the last few weeks and really needed (the win)," Hardaker said. "The girls have been working hard and we did a great job not getting discouraged when we got down in the second half. It's a big win for us and hopefully we can build on it."
Morgan hit 5-of-9 shots from the field with two treys and was 11-of-12 from the foul line in her 23-point effort and had a fantastic all-around game in adding adding five assists, four steals and four rebounds.
Alyssa Fuxa hit all six of her free throws in scoring 15 points, while McKenzie Solberg had all 12 of her points in the second half and Savannah Hamilton finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
UCO finished with 21 assists on 28 baskets, getting five each from Morgan and Jill Bryan and four from Jordan Ward.
The Bronchos trailed 42-40 at intermission and fell behind by nine (61-52) with 11:04 left to play before starting their comeback.
Rachel New hit a 3-pointer from the corner to start a 13-4 spurt that Morgan ended with a trey from the wing to pull UCO even at 65-all and Morgan answered a LU layup with another shot beyond the arc to put the Bronchos on top 68-67 with 7:17 remaining.
It was tied at 70 and again at 72 before UCO went ahead to stay on a Solberg 3-pointer from the top of the key and the freshman followed a Hamilton steal with a fast-break layup to make it 77-72 at the 4:00 mark.
Morgan and Solberg hit two foul shots apiece to push the advantage to 81-73 at 3:01, but the Blue Tigers got to within four at 83-79 at 0:55 before Morgan made four straight free throws -- two after being fouled on a drive and two more after a technical foul was called -- five seconds later to make it 87-79 and clinch the win.
UCO wraps up a three-game league homestand Wednesday, hosting Emporia State at 5:30 p.m.
UCO MEN WIN 3RD STRAIGHT IN LEAGUE
Josh Gibbs and Spencer Smith each had a double-double to spark Central Oklahoma to an 89-80 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association triumph over Lincoln Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House.
Gibbs scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Smith had 20 points to go with a game- and career-high 13 boards as the Bronchos won their third straight league game.
UCO outscored the Blue Tigers 17-3 the final 5:25 of the first half to turn a seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead and never trailed the rest of the way in improving to 10-11 on the season and 7-5 in the conference.
“We got off to a slow start and didn’t have much intensity early on, but we got it going toward the end of the half and played pretty well the rest of the way,” head coach Terry Evans said. “We got good contributions from a lot of guys and came out with a good win.”
Gibbs was 9-of-16 from the field and 7-of-10 from the line in his 25-point outing and also handed out three assists. Smith hit 7-of-12 shots with three 3-pointers and all three foul shots.
Cal Andrews hit four 3-pointers in adding 14 points, while Jamell Cormier finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists and Nic Combs had seven points off the bench.
UCO jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead and was up 18-13 before Lincoln scored seven unanswered points to move in front and the Blue Tigers went on to take a 30-23 lead at the 5:39 mark.
The Bronchos came back with nine straight points – four by Gibbs – in going ahead 31-30, with LU regaining a 33-31 lead at 2:52.
UCO then scored the final nine points of the half to take a 40-33 lead into the break, getting back-to-back 3-pointers form Seth Heckart and Andrews before Smith capped the spurt with an old-fashioned three-point play.
Andrews opened the second half with another trey to give the Bronchos a double-digit advantage and UCO’s lead peaked at 13 (71-58) with 8:08 left on a Gibbs layup.
The Blue Tigers tried to rally and got within five at 82-77 with just 1:44 left, but Cormier and Combs made two foul shots apiece to make it a nine-point game (86-77) at 1:01 and the Bronchos coasted in.
UCO finishes up a three-game MIAA homestand Wednesday, taking on Emporia State at 7:30 p.m.