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Eagles suffer close losses to open conference play

Friday, December 7, 2007  
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By Stefanie Trent

The Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball team entered Sooner Athletic Conference play last week and lost to both the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Southern Nazarene University.

In the loss to Southern Nazarene the Eagles came out strong in the first 15 minutes as they went up 16-0 against the ninth ranked Crimson Storm.

“We played the best 15 minutes of the year at the start. Unfortunately games are longer than 15 minutes; we have to learn to finish games,” head coach Dan Hays said.

The Crimson Storm came back and took over the lead, but the Eagles were able to tie the score before halftime.

“We played good in the first half and then we just started to get away from what we were doing. We played good enough to win, we just couldn’t make the plays at the end of the game,” sophomore Jason Taylor said.

Oklahoma Christian had a very strong showing in the first half by the team’s starters.

“I thought we played pretty well,” junior Kyle Tefft said. “We have to play better down the stretch. We might be able to win some of these close ones.”

The Eagles lost steam and staying power during the first half after coming out strong.

“We came out really strong in the first 15 then we had a little short lapse and then went on another run and got it close,” sophomore David Jackson said. “We came out in the second half and did not play well. They got the lead and won the game.”

Coming back from halftime the Crimson Storm took off on a 10-0 run and never looked back.

“I think we let one slip away that we should have definitely won,” freshman Jeff Crocker said.

After the 60-57 loss to Southern Nazarene the Eagles stand at 0-2 in conference play.

“We play so many conference games we don’t have practice time so there is not time to put new plays in. We hope to be 1-2 before Christmas break,” Tefft said. 

Against Science and Arts of Oklahoma the Eagles jumped out to an early lead, but once again were unable to continue their momentum.

The Drovers took a 30-27 lead into intermission and Oklahoma Christian never regained the lead.

Taylor led the Eagles with 27 points and seven rebounds and Tefft dropped in 21 points.

The team has been growing all semester. For many players this is their first time to play at this level.

“We are getting better day by day, practice by practice, and game by game,” Taylor said. “We have really improved with what we are doing since the first game. I am excited to see what next semester brings.”

With Christmas break just around the corner, players and coaches are looking forward to growing as a team and continued practice. This allows them time to focus on practice and working on new plays.

“The break will be good to have practice time because we come back so early,” Taylor said. “It will give us time to be better as a team. We will be able to focus on basketball because no one else will be here.”

As conference play continues next semester, the Eagles look to improve their record, as well as their standing in the conference.

“We are playing better. It is a young team that is growing. The key for us is how much we are going to improve; we knew it would be a challenge,” assistant coach Curtis Janz said. “We have to continue to get better and these guys have to work hard and have great attitudes. Great things will come from the team; it is just a matter of when.”

The Eagles picked up their first conference victory on Tuesday night by defeating No. 24 Northwestern Oklahoma State University 66-61. A 9-2 run helped the Eagles make up for a 12-point halftime deficit. Taylor led the Eagles with 24 points and 12 rebounds and Tefft pitched in 13 points and nine rebounds.

The team will use the upcoming break to recharge for the long conference season before taking on St. Gregory’s University on Jan. 3 in Shawnee, Okla.


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