Chris Brannick, Director of Sports Media Relations
EDMOND – The University of Central Oklahoma women’s basketball overcame a slow start on offense for the second night in a row to pick up its second win in as many days, 72-59 over Southern Nazarene in a non-conference matchup Tuesday night at Hamilton Field House.
Central Oklahoma (11-1) missed its first 11 shots of the game. It didn’t score until Jesheon Cooper made a layup with 4:24 to go in the first quarter. That made it 10-2. The Bronchos shot just 3 of 16 in the opening frame and quickly found itself down 20-12 to a sub-500 team.
But the Bronchos, as they did Monday night in a win over Cameron, responded with a big second quarter to comeback and tie the game 30-30 at halftime. It took a handful of free throws and a stingy defense. UCO still shot just 4 of 18 in the second quarter, but added 10 of 11 free throws to climb back into the game.
UCO then pulled away in the third. Southern Nazarene scored the first basket of the half, but a 3-pointer by Blake Blessington with 9:08 to play put UCO up 33-32 and give the Bronchos their first lead of the game.
Melinda Murillo made a layup 90 seconds later, Cooper hit a pair of free throws, then Murillo hit a 3-pointer of her own, and suddenly, UCO led 43-32. The Bronchos led by as many as 14 and the quarter and built a 52-43 lead heading into the final frame.
Southern Nazarene went on an 8-0 to start the fourth quarter, but couldn’t tie the game again. Murillo hit a jumper to get UCO going in the final quarter. Then, UCO freshman Jo’Nah Johnson went on a tear to break it wide open for the Bronchos.
Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 6:09 to play to make it 58-51. UCO forced a turnover, then Johnson hit another three to make it a 10-point game. UCO forced another turnover, this time it was Johnson drawing a charge, then Edmond Santa Fe product knocked down a jumper to put UCO up 63-51.
Murillo led the Bronchos on the night with 23 points. She hit 10 of 10 free throws a night after Blessington did so against Cameron. The duo are the 12th and 13th respectively to go 100 percent from the free-throw line with at least 10 attempts in school history. Blessington finished with nine points and seven rebounds. She was 4 of 5 from the line Tuesday.
Johnson scored 12, hitting a pair of threes and a pair of free throws.
Cooper posted a double-double – her 10th of the season – after scoring 11 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. The senior center added a pair of blocked shots.
Central gets a bit of a break for Christmas. The Bronchos are off for a week until hosting East Central on Saturday, Dec. 30.