SAN ANTONIO — Stellar defense got Oklahoma Christian into overtime, and once there, Dedrian Parmer Jr. took over for the Eagles.
Parmer Jr. scored OC's first seven points of OT to stake the Eagles to a lead and Will Lienhard and Anthony Johnson helped them pull away for a 70-60 win over St. Mary's (Texas) at Bill Greehey Arena on Saturday afternoon. It was the Eagles' first win in seven attempts on the Rattlers' home court since beginning the NCAA Division II membership process with the 2012-13 season.
It will be the only regular-season meeting this season between OC (4-7, 3-4 Lone Star Conference) – which jumped into second place in its six-team LSC division – and St. Mary's (6-7, 2-5), which both moved into the Lone Star this season from the now-defunct Heartland Conference.
Parmer Jr. scored 27 points (one of his season high) and added nine rebounds, while Lienhard contributed 13 points (on 5-of-5 shooting), 11 rebounds and three blocked shots for his first double-double of the season and the 11th of his career. Marcus Blackwell played all 45 minutes and had six points and six rebounds. The trio helped OC post a 39-36 rebounding edge, key in a tight, taut game in which neither team led by more than eight points during regulation.
"Dedrian, Will and Marcus dominated the glass in the second half and limited them to one shot," OC coach Kendre Talley said. "Our defense is becoming our identity. Our guys locked in and got stops when we needed them."
The Eagles overcame a 23-point performance by Markques Houston, who hit 7 of 15 3-point attempts for the Rattlers, as well as 14 points from Kobe McGee, who went 4 of 11 from behind the arc. Caleb Jordan added 12 points and nine assists, but besides those three players, only two others scored for the Rattlers, as OC limited St. Mary's to 34.4% shooting (21 of 61).
"I couldn't be more proud of the way our guys played today," Talley said. "It was good to compete and be solid in a complete game. We have been playing a really good first half, but today we played a full game.
"St. Mary's is a tough, well-coached team, but our staff did a great job and made some halftime adjustments which allowed us to play our game and not theirs. We benefitted from playing at our pace and taking care of the basketball."
Parmer Jr. hit two free throws with 1:20 left in regulation to tie the game at 55-55 and the Eagles sweated out a final St. Mary's possession in the final seconds before Jaron Presley missed a well-guarded 12-footer at the buzzer.
In OT, it was all OC, as the Eagles went 4 of 5 from the field and 7 of 9 from the free-throw line (after going just 9 of 18 from the line during regulation). St. Mary's made just 2 of 8 shots and had three critical turnovers, allowing the Eagles to pull away.
Parmer Jr. — who drew a whopping 11 fouls — split a pair of free throws to put the Eagles ahead for good at 56-55 with 4:18 left. He hit a pair with 3:46 left and two more with 3:02 left to make it 60-57, then scored off an assist from Johnatan Reyes-Valdez with 2:11 left. After a steal by Blackwell, Johnson made a driving layup.
St. Mary's committed another turnover and Lienhard converted a traditional three-point play (with Reyes-Valdez assisting), putting the Eagles up 67-57 with 48.4 seconds left. Johnson capped the win with a breakaway dunk with 20.9 seconds left.
Reyes-Valdez – a former star at San Antonio's Tom C. Clark High School – had nine points and six assists and committed only one turnover while playing nearly 42 minutes as the Eagles' primary point guard.
"John continues to play well in his hometown," Talley said. "He's stepped up and been leading this team."
OC led for most of the first half, by as many as seven points, at 10-3 after a basket by Parmer Jr. at the 15:07 mark. But Houston hit three 3-pointers during a 12-1 run late in the half and St. Mary's was up 32-26 at halftime. He made two more 3-pointers early in the second half, the second giving the Rattlers a 38-30 lead with 16:27 left.
The Eagles slowly chipped away at that deficit and pulled even at 47-47, when Parmer Jr. split two free throws with 8:55 left. OC went ahead 53-51 on a driving layup by Johnson with 2:53 left, but Emmanuel Ewuzie tied the game with 2:37 left and Jordan hit a floater in the lane with 1:48 left to put St. Mary's back up. Parmer Jr. then hit his two free throws that again tied the game.
OC shot 47.2% from the field (25 of 53) and committed a season-low nine turnovers.
After four straight games on the road, the Eagles will return home to host Tarleton State (Texas) on Thursday and Division II power Dallas Baptist (Texas) on Saturday in LSC play.