Special to The Sun
Two turnovers in the final minute proved costly for the Central Oklahoma women Thursday night at Hamilton Field House as the Bronchos dropped a tough 78-76 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association decision to Missouri Western.
UCO battled from behind most of the game and was within two at 73-71 before throwing the ball away with 56 seconds left. The Bronchos still had a chance after the Griffons made one of two free throws at 0:24 to make it 74-71, but another turnover at 0:16 led to two more MWSU free throws that clinched the win.
Central fell to 8-3 overall and 1-2 in the league, while the Griffons improved to 9-2 and 2-1. The Bronchos are home again Saturday, hosting No. 6-ranked and defending MIAA champion Washburn at 1:30 p.m.
Jill Bryan led UCO with 19 points and four steals, while McKenzie Solberg added 10 points. The Bronchos missed 11 free throws in the game — hitting 21-of-32 (65.6 percent) — and the Griffons scored 22 points off UCO's 19 turnovers.
The Bronchos missed their first six shots of the game in falling behind early and trailed by 10 (16-6) eight minutes into the contest. UCO rallied to tie it at 33-all by intermission when Bryan drained a long-distance 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Another Bryan trey to open the second half gave the Bronchos their first lead of the game at 36-33, but it was short-lived as MWSU answered with a 7-0 run to move back on top.
UCO led only one more time, at 51-49 following two Chelsea Robinson free throws with 12:33 left to play. It was tied for the final time at 54 after Robinson made one of two foul shots at 10:22, with the Griffons scoring four straight points after that to move in front to stay.
The Bronchos stayed close the rest of the way, but could never regain the lead in losing their first home game of the season.
UCO 77, Missouri Western 78 (men)
It was a tale of two halves for the Central Oklahoma men Thursday night at Hamilton Field House and the end result was another disappointing home loss.
The Bronchos nailed nine 3-pointers in opening up a 44-30 halftime lead over Missouri Western before making just 2-of-11 long-range attempts in the final 20 minutes as the Griffons rallied for a stunning 78-77 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association victory.
MWSU got the game-winning basket with just eight seconds left and UCO turned the ball over on its final possession in dropping its fourth straight home game by three points or less.
The Bronchos, now 3-8 on the season and 1-2 in league play, are back home again Saturday to host No. 8-ranked Washburn at 3:30 p.m.
UCO appeared in control after grabbing its 14-point halftime cushion before the Griffons opened the second half with a 13-3 run to quickly pull within 46-43 and get back in the game.
But the Bronchos stayed in front and upped their lead back to nine on a couple of occasions, the final time at 64-55 with 8:17 left on a short James Watson jumper.
The lead was 70-64 following a Josh Gibbs layup at the 5:17 mark, but MWSU scored seven answered points to take its first lead of the game at 71-70 with 4:01 remaining.
Two Gibbs free throws put UCO back in front 72-71 before a 5-0 run gave the Griffons a 76-72 advantage with 1:44 to play.
Smith drilled a trey from the top of the key at 1:21 to pull the Bronchos within one and his steal 30 seconds later led to a pair of Seth Heckart free throws that gave UCO a 77-76 lead with 19 seconds left.
MWSU’s Reed Mells crushed UCO’s hopes when his leaning 10-foot jumper swished through at 0:08 to put the Griffons on top 78-77 and it stayed that way when the Bronchos threw the ball away at 0:06.
Gibbs made four first-half 3-pointers and led UCO with 20 points, while Smith and Jamelle Cormier had 13 points each. June Carter chipped in a game-high 11 rebounds to go with four points.
The Bronchos ended up shooting just 36.5 percent (23-of-63) from the field and 64.5 percent (20-of-31) from the line.