Alva Review-Courier -

Late drought costs Eagles in OT loss at Midwestern State


December 21, 2018

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (Dec. 19, 2018) – After climbing the mountain literally the entire basketball game, Oklahoma Christian finally reached the summit in overtime, taking its first lead of the game over Midwestern State (Texas). But once the Eagles got ahead, they couldn't maintain their advantage.

Midwestern State closed the game with a 9-0 run over the final 3:30 of overtime to hold off OC 88-82 on Wednesday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum, with Elijah Lee going 4 of 4 from the free-throw line in the last 15 seconds for the Mustangs, who snapped a six-game losing streak.

One of the OC program's legendary wins came at Midwestern State in 1977, when the Eagles ended MSU's 70-game homecourt winning streak, and OC (4-7) hoped to come away with a positive result in the Mustangs' domed arena in the season before the Eagles join MSU in the Lone Star Conference.

But the Eagles trailed most of the game Wednesday, quickly falling behind 7-0 and tying the game only twice before the final minutes, at 11-11 in the first half and 50-50 in the second half. Every time the Eagles pulled close, though, Midwestern State (4-7) seemed to have an answer and the Mustangs seemed to be in good shape with a 75-70 lead with 50 seconds left in regulation.

Then Jordan Box knocked down a 3-pointer for OC with 42 seconds left, and after MSU's Josh Wallace split a pair of free throws, Box struck again from long range, banking home an off-balance shot with 23 seconds left to tie the game at 76-76.

OC forced a Midwestern State turnover with :02 left, but the Eagles proved unable to get off a shot before regulation time ended. Box quickly gave OC its first lead, scoring 15 seconds into overtime, and he made two free throws with 3:30 left to put the Eagles up 82-79.

He scored 12 straight points for the Eagles during the final minute of regulation and the first 90 seconds of OT, but those proved to be OC's final points. The Eagles had three players – Marcus Blackwell, Aubrey Johnson and Roderick Smith – foul out in the final minutes and missed their final six shots.

A 3-pointer by Wallace tied the game 82-82 with 2:41 left and the Mustangs went ahead for good on a fast-break jumper by JaJuan Starks with 1:55 left. Starks finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Mustangs, while Wallace had 18 points.

Box scored 22 points to lead the Eagles, while Smith posted his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds, Blackwell scored 16 points and Johnson had 12. Will Lienhard, the leading rebounder in NCAA Division II, played with four fouls for more than 10 minutes of the second half of overtime, but still finished with 15 boards to go with six points.

But the Eagles shot just 39.2 percent from the field (29 of 74) to 46.7 percent (28 of 60) for Midwestern State, and the Mustangs outscored the Eagles 26-17 at the free-throw line.

OC will host another Lone Star Conference foe, Eastern New Mexico, on Dec. 29, before opening Heartland Conference play on Jan. 9 at Arkansas-Fort Smith.


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