Special to The Sun
A second-half 3-point barrage broke the game open for Central Oklahoma and the Bronchos went on to cruise past Oklahoma Baptist 73-58 in their home opener Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House.
UCO drained five long-distance daggers in less than five minutes during a 23-7 run midway through the second half to turn a six-point lead into a 22-point cushion and Guy Hardaker’s crew coasted in from there.
It was the fifth straight win after a season-opening loss for the Bronchos (5-1) and ended a six-game winning streak by the Lady Bison (6-2).
UCO entered the game shooting just 29.5 percent from long range, but nailed 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) second-half attempts in finishing 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) for the game. Defensively, the Bronchos limited OBU to 29.4 percent (5-of-17) shooting from beyond the arc after the Lady Bison came in averaging more than 11 treys a game on 41 percent shooting.
“We did a good job defensively of making them shoot their 3-pointers from farther out than they like,” Hardaker said. “We were a little inconsistent, but we played well in stretches and came out with a good win.”
Alyssa Fuxa and McKenzie Solberg scored 17 points apiece to pace UCO. Fuxa was 7-of-10 from the field while adding a season-high 10 rebounds and three assists, with Solberg hitting 6-of-13 shots and all four free throw tries.
The Bronchos also got a career-high 10 points from Rachel New, who drilled a pair of 3-pointers while also driving in for two layups. Savannah Hamilton chipped in a season-high 11 rebounds, a career-best five steals and six points.
Both teams struggled early and it was tied 10-10 midway through the opening half before OBU scored six unanswered points. The Lady Bison were still up six at 20-14 with 7:16 left, but Fuxa’s fast-break layup off a Britney Morgan feed and Morgan’s 3-pointer sparked a 14-4 spurt that gave UCO a 28-24 halftime lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by New and Chelsea Robinson helped the Bronchos open up a 13-point advantage (40-27) five minutes into the second half, but OBU battled back and was within six at 42-36 when UCO finally took control.
Solberg’s trey at the 11:22 mark ignited the game-breaking 23-7 run and the Bronchos hit three 3-pointers — two by Hamilton, one by Morgan — during a 56-second span in taking total control.
Solberg’s conventional three-point play with 6:42 remaining gave UCO a commanding 65-43 lead and the Lady Bison never got closer than the final margin the rest of the way.
The Bronchos make their Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association debut next week, traveling to Pittsburg State Thursday and Southwest Baptist Saturday.