UCO holds off CU in tough non-conference matchup

UCO Sports
Chris Brannick, Director of Sports Media Relations

EDMOND – The University of Central Oklahoma women’s basketball team fought back against a frigid-cold shooting night to pull away to a 65-59 win over Cameron in a non-conference matchup at Hamilton Field House Monday night.

The 23rd-ranked Bronchos spent most of the game trying to find a rhythm on offense and make the open shots it kept finding. The Bronchos ended the game 30.5 percent from the floor on 18 of 59 shooting, and 16.7 percent from three on 4 of 24 shooting.

“We kept getting a lot of looks we wanted, we just weren’t making a thing,” UCO head coach Guy Hardaker said. “There were some times on offense that we didn’t look very good, but when you’re getting good looks, you just have to keep shooting.”

What helped the Bronchos overcome were free throws. UCO made 25 of 31 attempts from the line Monday, giving it the edge it needed on offense. As Cameron made its final push to comeback – it trailed the entire second half – UCO used a four-free-throw spurt to pull away.

Cameron sank two 3-pointers in the final 24 seconds, the latter coming with 12 seconds left, to cut the lead to five. The Aggies then stole an inbounds pass, drew a foul, and sank two free throws of their own to make it 62-59 with nine seconds left.

But here is where the Bronchos won the game.

Melinda Murillo dribbled in the back court for a few seconds before Cameron was able to foul. Then, the referees whistled Cameron head coach Emma Andrews for a technical foul following the play. That gave the Bronchos four free throws.

Blake Blessington made the first two, Murillo then sank another to make it 65-59. Murillo missed the final, but it didn’t matter. UCO pulled away for the win – its fifth consecutive and third straight at home.

Blessington was the last of four Bronchos in double figures scoring Monday night, but the junior guard ended up as the leading scorer. Blessington scored 15 points, hitting 10 of 10 free throws to get there. She becomes just the 12th Broncho in school history to shoot 100 percent from the free throw line in a single game with at least 10 attempts. Blessington added four assists and a pair of rebounds.

Jesheon Cooper had a huge game for the Bronchos and ended with her ninth double-double in 11 games this season. Cooper had 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, as well as four blocked shots. Monday was also Cooper’s fourth game with at least 15 rebounds.

Murillo scored 14 on 4 of 14 shooting. Shatoya Bryson, who returned to the starting lineup Monday, scored 12 on 4 of 14 shooting. The Bronchos also got eight, key points off the bench from Jo’Nah Johnson, and two each from Megan Womack and Megan Hartness.

Central has a quick turnaround, playing again in less than 24 hours. UCO hosts Southern Nazarene Tuesday night at 5:30 in Hamilton Field House.