Special to The Sun
Seth Heckart made a bundle of big plays and was all over the court to spark Central Oklahoma to a season-opening 88-70 rout of Southwestern Christian Thursday night at Hamilton Field House.
The 6-foot redshirt freshman guard was a whirlwind in his 21-minute collegiate debut off the bench, scoring 14 points with four 3-pointers while making seven steals — just one off the school record — and dishing out six assists in addition to pulling down five rebounds.
Heckart was at his best when the game was on the line, igniting a 10-0 second-half run that enabled the Bronchos to break a 54-all tie and take control en route to winning their seventh straight season opener.
“Seth had a great game and really gave us a big lift,” said 11th-year head coach Terry Evans. “He made a lot of things happen and came up with some big steals that got our running game going.”
Heckart nailed a long 3-pointer with 13:05 remaining to put UCO on top to stay and he followed with back-to-back steals, getting the assist on a Jamell Cormier layup after the first of those.
Spencer Smith followed Heckart’s second steal with a 3-pointer and a SWCU miss led to Smith’s fast-break dunk off a Cormier pass that gave the Bronchos a 64-54 lead at the 10:58 mark.
UCO soon started to pull away and the lead peaked at 22 a couple of times down the stretch.
Josh Gibbs finished with a team-high 18 points while hitting 4-of-6 shots from beyond the arc. Smith ended up with 14 points and six rebounds, Josh Davis added 12 points and nine boards and June Carter chipped in eight points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Bronchos turned 28 SWCU turnovers into 35 points and also outscored the Eagles 52-24 in the paint. UCO ended up with a 51-40 rebounding edge after getting beat 27-22 on the boards in the first half.
Central jumped out to a big lead early and was up 22-7 just seven minutes into the contest after Cormier’s steal and driving layup.
SWCU responded with a 23-4 run to surge in front 30-26 and the Bronchos still trailed 39-38 in the final minutes of the half before Heckart hit a 3-pointer and Nic Combs two free throws to give UCO a 43-39 halftime advantage.
The Eagles stayed close in the opening stages of the second half and finally drew even at 54 before Heckart took over.
Broncho sign prep stars
Central Oklahoma women’s basketball coach Guy Hardaker added a pair of high school seniors to the program during the early signing period that started Wednesday.
Inking with the Bronchos were Marley Anderson, a 5-foot-6 guard from Snyder High School, and 6-foot-2 forward Brittany Lancaster of S & S Consolidated School in Moran, Texas.
Anderson was named conference MVP last year after averaging 19.2 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 steals a game for the Cyclones. She was MVP of the state tournament in 2011 after scoring 22 points in a 53-49 Class 2A finals victory over Millwood.
“Marley finds ways to score and does whatever it takes for her team to win,” Hardaker said. “She’s a great player and we’re excited about having her join our program.”
Lancaster is a dominating force inside and is coming off a junior season that saw her averaging 24 points and 16 rebounds a game in earning conference co-MVP honors. She has also lettered in volleyball and track.
“Brittany is a tough, physical player who really knows how to play the game,” Hardaker said. “We’re thrilled to get her and look forward to seeing what she can do in a UCO uniform.”