Special to The Sun
Cal Andrews drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Central Oklahoma the halftime lead and the Bronchos continued their long-distance assault in the second half to run away from Emporia State 83-69 Wednesday night at Hamilton Field House.
It was the fourth straight Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association win for UCO, which evened its overall record at 11-11 while improving to 9-5 in the league to stay just a game behind Central Missouri and Fort Hays State in the crowded league standings.
Andrews’ trey from the corner started an impressive outside shooting display that saw the Bronchos make nine of its next 12 attempts from beyond the arc in blowing the game open.
The Bronchos shot a blistering 62.5 percent (10-of-16) from long range in the second half and ended up making 14-of-29 treys (48.3 percent) for the game. UCO shot 51.0 percent (25-of-49) overall and also committed just 10 turnovers.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now and that showed in the way we shot the ball tonight,” head coach Terry Evans said. “The league’s pretty wide open and we’re playing as well as anyone.”
Josh Gibbs had his fourth straight 20-point outing and scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half when he made 4-of-6 3-point tries, while Christian Huffman made his first five shots of the game en route to a season-high 16-point outing.
Andrews was 5-of-7 from long range in finishing with 15 points, while Spencer Smith had 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds and Jamell Cormier 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
UCO trailed only once, at 5-2 three minutes into the game. Andrews soon tied it with his first 3-pointer and the Bronchos led by as many as eight (28-20) before ESU rallied to pull even at 33-all with five seconds left in the half.
That’s when Andrews nailed his corner shot, taking a half-court pass from Cormier and swishing through the go-ahead basket as the horn sounded.
A short Huffman jumper and Cormier 3-pointer pushed UCO’s lead to eight (41-33) in the opening minute of the second half and the Bronchos started to pull away.
It was a nine-point advantage at 49-40 when Gibbs knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers from 25-plus feet and Smith followed with a trey from the wing in quick-strike 9-0 run that made it 58-40 at the 10:31 mark.
The Hornets whittled their deficit back to 12 (60-48) at 8:28, but two more treys by Gibbs and five points from Cormier sparked a 14-4 spurt that pushed the cushion to 22 (74-52) with 5:06 remaining.
UCO coasted in from there in reaching the .500 mark for the first time since the opening week of the season.
The Bronchos are off until going to Missouri Southern on Feb. 21.
UCO women fall to Emporia
Central Oklahoma stayed close most of the way, but could never get over the hump and Emporia State pulled away down the stretch for a 73-60 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association victory Wednesday night at Hamilton Field House.
The Bronchos were within four at 60-56 with 6:10 left to play before ESU used its free throw accuracy to put the game away, hitting 9-of-10 foul shots down the stretch.
The Lady Hornets ended up hitting 20-of-21 free throws (95.2 percent) for the game in improving to 15-6 on the year and 10-3 in the MIAA. UCO fell to 9-13 and 2-12.
Alyssa Fuxa was 8-of-9 from the line in a 13-point outing while adding seven rebounds to pace the Bronchos. Britney Morgan had 12 points, with McKenzie Solberg and Whitney Dunn scoring 11 apiece off the bench.
Morgan’s 3-pointer 16 seconds into the game and two Fuxa free throws gave UCO a quick 5-0 lead, but the Lady Hornets answered with an 8-0 run to move in front 8-5.
A Dunn layup gave the Bronchos a 9-8 lead before ESU reeled off six unanswered points to regain the lead for good at 14-9. The Lady Hornets led by as many as 10 and took a 34-26 lead into intermission.
ESU pushed its advantage to 12 (58-46) with 8:12 left in the game before the Bronchos made their final rally.
Solberg hit a jumper and Fuxa followed with six straight points, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key and then converting a conventional three-point play to bring UCO within 58-54 at the 6:49 mark.
Fuxa followed an ESU bucket with two free throws at 6:10 to make it 60-56, but the Lady Hornets scored the next five points and UCO got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
The Bronchos are off until going to Missouri Southern Feb. 21.