Special to The Sun
DENTON, Texas —
Jill Bryan broke out of an early-season shooting slump to score 19 points and Rachel New hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch to spur Central Oklahoma past Angelo State 67-64 here Saturday on the first day of the Marriott Champions Circle Pioneer Premiere.
The Bronchos overcame a nine-point second-half deficit in pulling out their second straight win of the young season after an opening loss and will return to action Sunday with a 4 p.m. contest against host Texas Woman’s.
“We made some big plays the last 10 minutes of the game and came out with a good win,” UCO coach Guy Hardaker said. “We had a couple of good defensive stops and made some big buckets when we really needed them.”
Bryan made just 5-of-16 shots in UCO’s first two games, but the junior sharpshooter was 6-of-9 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers and hit all five free throw tries in her 19-point outing while adding eight rebounds.
The Bronchos also got 14 points and eight rebounds from Alyssa Fuxa, while Britney Morgan added 11 points and Hayley Bryan 10.
New had five points and it was her 3-pointer with 4:45 left to play that gave the Bronchos a lead it would never relinquish at 60-58. The Rambelles came back to tie it with 3:58 left to play, but Fuxa’s conventional three-point play made it 63-60 at 3:26.
Neither team scored again until Bryan hit a pair of free throws at 1:19 to up the lead to 65-60 and UCO survived some tense moments the rest of the way.
An ASU bucket with 1:11 left cut the lead to 65-62 and the Bronchos then turned the ball over, but the Rambelles were off the mark on two tying 3-point tries and Fuxa was fouled rebounding the second miss with nine seconds remaining.
She made both clutch foul shots to bump the cushion back to five at 67-62 before the Rambelles scored a meaningless basket at the buzzer.
UCO fell behind 7-2 in the opening minutes of the game before roaring back with a 17-4 run to take a 19-11 lead on Hayley Bryan’s layup midway through the opening half.
ASU responded with a scoring spurt of its own en route to take a 34-30 halftime advantage and the Rambelles were up nine at 41-32 with 17:59 left to play.
UCO started its comeback with a 7-0 run by the Bryan sisters — four by Hayley, a 3-pointer by Jill — that made it 41-39 and it was close the rest of the way.
BRONCHOS FALL AT HOME
Poor shooting — particularly from long distance and the free throw line — proved costly for Central Oklahoma Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Field House as the Bronchos dropped a frustrating 68-66 decision to Oklahoma City.
UCO made only 6-of-25 tries (24.0 percent) from 3-point range, shooting a mere 7.1 percent (1-of-14) in the opening 20 minutes. The Bronchos weren’t much better from the charity stripe, making 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) for the game and nailing just 4-of-13 (30.8 percent) in the second half.
Coach Terry Evans’ troops nearly overcame their game-long shooting woes at the end, but Spencer Smith’s game-winning 3-point try from 25 feet bounced off the front rim as the buzzer sounded to drop the Bronchos to 1-1 with just the seventh home loss in the last 72 games.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well, there’s no way around it,” Evans said. “We got good looks and didn’t knock our shots down and that carried over to the free throw line.”
UCO, which beat the Stars 81-77 in an exhibition game at OCU on Nov. 8, trailed 35-29 at halftime and were down as many as eight in the second half before rallying.
The Bronchos pulled away for the first time since midway through the opening half with 8:41 remaining when Seth Heckart drilled a 3-pointer from the wing and the game went back-and-forth the rest of the way.
Another Heckart trey had UCO on top 59-57 with 3:22 left, but the Stars came back with seven unanswered points for a 64-59 lead at the 1:16 mark.
It was still a five-point deficit (66-61) with 47 seconds to play, but Jamell Cormier hit one of two foul shots at 0:42 and Josh Gibbs followed two OCU missed free throws with a long 3-pointer at 0:21 to draw the Bronchos within one at 66-65.
The Stars made one free throw at 0:19 and June Carter hit one at 0:11 for the Bronchos to keep it a one-point game before UCO fouled Charlton Jones with six seconds left after it was unable to force a turnover.
Jones made the first charity toss and then missed the next, with Smith gathering in the rebound. The senior forward got the ball back on the other end and tossed up a shot that was on target but just short as the final horn sounded.
Heckart led the Bronchos, hitting 5-of-8 shots with three treys in a 15-point outing. Gibbs added 13 points, six assists and six rebounds, Carter had 13 points and three blocked shots and Smith ended with 10 points and nine rebounds.
UCO ends a three-game homestand Tuesday when it hosts Mid-America Christian at 7 p.m.