Special to The Sun
Chelsi Dennis and Britney Morgan combined for 14 points in a 20-3 first-half run that propelled Central Oklahoma from a slim deficit to a big lead and the Bronchos went on to throttle Southern Nazarene 86-69 Tuesday night at the Sawyer Center.
UCO committed a season-low 12 turnovers and won its fourth straight game after taking control behind its first-half surge.
Dennis scored eight of her 10 points and Morgan six of her team-high 15 during a nearly seven-minute stretch as the Bronchos went from trailing 19-17 to leading 37-22.
The lead grew to 18 (44-26) by intermission and UCO was up by as many as 30 in the second half before coasting in to prevail in the first meeting between the two teams since Jan. 20, 1987.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but we ... had a good stretch the last 10 minutes of the half,” UCO coach Guy Hardaker said. “It was a little sloppy at the end, but we played really well and beat a good team tonight.”
Ten players scored in a balanced attack that saw the Bronchos get 34 points from their bench, with Morgan’s 15 points leading five double-figure scorers.
Savannah Hamilton hit four 3-pointers in a 14-point outing and Jill Bryan had 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds while Dennis and McKenzie Solberg each had 10 off the bench.
The Bronchos trailed by as many as six early in the contest, but turned the game around when Whitney Dunn hit a layup at the 9:11 mark to pull UCO even at 19-all.
A Solberg jumper put the Bronchos on top for good and the lead continued to grow as Morgan and Dennis took over, with Dennis’ 3-pointer at 2:38 capping the big run that made it 37-22.
Hamilton’s trey with 16 seconds left in the half gave UCO its 18-point cushion at the break and she had another long-distance dagger with 8:38 left to put the Bronchos up by 30, 71-41.
SNU ended the game with a 28-15 run to arrange the final margin, but the outcome was never in doubt.
UCO will take an extended break, not returning to action until making its home debut on Saturday, Dec. 1 against Oklahoma Baptist.
Bronchos shocked by Mid-America
Central Oklahoma’s frantic late-game comeback fell short Tuesday night at Hamilton Field House when the Bronchos missed their final four shots in dropping a stunning 87-84 decision to Mid-America Christian.
Spencer Smith scored 15 of his career-high 22 points in the final eight minutes of the game to rally UCO from a 15-point deficit, with the senior forward’s layup at the 2:01 mark giving the Bronchos an 84-81 lead.
But UCO didn’t score again, missing three shots inside 15 feet and a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer while the Evangels scored the final six points of the game on four free throws and a layup.
The second straight close home loss dropped the Bronchos to 1-2 on the season.
Smith was 8-of-12 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers and 4-of-5 from the line in his 22-point outing to lead UCO. June Carter had an outstanding game before fouling out in the final minutes, hitting 9-of-11 shots and finishing with career highs in both points (20) and rebounds (10).
The Bronchos also got 14 points from Christian Huffman and 10 from Jamell Cormier.
The game went back-and-forth most of the first half before MACU used an 11-2 run to grab a nine-point lead (36-27) and the Evangels were up six (44-38) at halftime.
UCO’s deficit grew to double digits in the opening minutes of the second half and it peaked at 17 (67-50) with 11:51 left to play. The Bronchos were still down 15 at 76-61 when Smith took over.
He hit a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 spurt that cut MACU’s lead to 76-68 at the 6:52 mark, with a pair of Carter layups and another Smith trey getting the Bronchos within 78-75 at 4:20.
The Evangels were up 81-80 after Smith’s follow shot with 2:44 remaining and UCO took its first lead since the first half 22 seconds later when a Seth Heckart steal led to two Huffman free throws.
Smith followed another MACU turnover with a baseline drive and layup that pushed UCO’s lead to 84-81 at 2:01 and the teams traded misses before the Evangels scored with 58 seconds left to make it 84-83.
Another Central miss led to two MACU free throws that gave it the lead at 85-84 at 0:23 and the Evangels blocked Josh Gibbs’ layup try with four seconds left before adding two more foul shots.
Cormier managed to get off a half-court heave at the final horn, but it bounced off the front rim.
UCO returns to action this weekend at the Drury Classic in Springfield, Mo. The Bronchos play host Drury Friday and Missouri-St. Louis Saturday.