OKLAHOMA CITY — Needing a boost for their offense, the Oklahoma Christian Lady Eagles turned to their defense on Thursday night and it worked wonders.
OC cranked up its scramble defense coming out of halftime, resulting in seven turnovers by Texas A&M-Kingsville in the third quarter and leading to 23-6 scoring edge in the period for the Lady Eagles. That gave them breathing room and they held on for a 65-52 win over the Javelinas in the Eagles' Nest.
It was the first-ever Lone Star Conference game for OC (1-2, 1-0 LSC), which picked up 16 points off the bench from sophomore center Kendall Blackburn of Edmond and 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from junior point guard Maddison Collyer of Harrah.
"We're trying to build our confidence a little bit," OC coach Stephanie Findley said. "We started off slow, just like we've started the season slow as far as our shooting goes, but we finally broke through in that second half and built a little momentum and confidence.
"It's good to see (Collyer) doing that, and her assist total being up. We have to make shots for her to get those assists, but she's looking for people and finding them at the right time and giving them good passes. I'm happy to see that and she's just been going to the boards like a maniac and I'm happy to see that, too."
TAMUK (1-2, 0-1) hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter and led 16-7 when it ended. Blackburn, who missed much of last season with a knee injury, scored the first six points of the second quarter for OC, cutting into that gap, although the Javelinas still held a 26-23 halftime lead.
OC junior forward Katie Mayo, who scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds, tied the game with a three-point play less than a minute into the third quarter, and Collyer followed with a steal, layup and three-point play of her own at the 7:55 mark, putting the Lady Eagles ahead at 29-26. Mayo added a 3-pointer with 24 seconds later after another OC steal and the Lady Eagles never were headed.
Blackburn hit a 3-pointer, a 2-pointer and a free throw during a 10-0 run later in the quarter that pushed OC's lead to 44-31. She finished 6 of 10 from the field and her 16 points were just one off her career high.
"Kendall can score in a lot of different ways," Findley said. "She's got a real nice soft touch on the ball. She can shoot from deep, she can shoot the mid-range and she can shoot under the goal. She has a nice jumper. She's very capable and very strong. It's good to see her get something going after she had to sit out most of last year with that knee injury."
The Eagles led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter. Only two TAMUK players scored in double figures – Ravae Payne, who went 4 of 5 from 3-point range and had 18 points, and Danielle Meador, who had 12 points. The Javelinas shot just 33.3 percent (19 of 57) from the field, while OC shot 36.1 percent (22 of 61).
"It is good to get a win," Findley said. "Those first two games (of the season) … we had our moments when we played really well but we had too many dry spots in both of those games. We had a bad first quarter (tonight), but it's good to see us hang in there, be resilient and bounce back."
OC will host another south Texas LSC squad, Texas A&M International, on Saturday at 2 p.m.