Chris Brannick, Director of Sports Media Relations
OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of Central Oklahoma women’s basketball team used a balance offensive attack and a smothering defense to top Oklahoma Christian 67-61 Tuesday night.
Jesheon Cooper led the way for the Bronchos with 13 points and 16 rebounds. It was the third straight double-double for Cooper, who helped the Bronchos to a 3-0 start. Blake Blessington added 12 and Melinda Murillo, 10.
“We were fortunate to have a solid defensive effort tonight, because we didn’t play very well at all on offense,” UCO head coach Guy Hardaker said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well and we had way too many turnovers. I’m glad to get out of here with a win based on how we played.”
UCO got its biggest boost by a smothering defensive effort from Madison Lee. The junior guard chipped in 30 minutes of non-stop full-fledged in-your-face defense to stop Oklahoma Christian’s leading scorer, Addy Clift. The OC guard came into the game averaging 21.5 points per game. Lee held her to just 10 on 4-of-16 shooting.
“Madison was key for us,” Hardaker said. “She gives 100 percent on every possession and we needed that out of her tonight. She played a huge role tonight.”
UCO used a 6-0 start to the game to jump out to an early lead, and really never looked back in the win. The Bronchos their best quarter in the second frame, shooting 8 of 19 from the floor, putting in 23 points and moving ahead by 11 at halftime, 34-23.
Central earned its biggest lead of the game in the third quarter. Cooper put in a layup with 5:38 to play to push the lead to 17, 42-25. After an Ireon Smith bucket moved it back to 17 with just over five minutes to play, Oklahoma Christian made a push to make it a game.
The Eagles went on a 9-2 run to close the gap and work the Broncho lead back to 11 by quarters end. OC kept it going in the fourth, getting into single digits on the first play of the fourth quarter. With 3:55 to play, OC finally made it to a one possession game on a pair of free throws. But after getting to within two points at that time, the Bronchos finished off the Eagles, outscoring OC 14-10 down the stretch to get out of Oklahoma City with the win.
Central Oklahoma’s high-scorer on the day was Cooper’s 13 points. But the Bronchos got points from 10 of 12 players Tuesday. Lee had seven, and Shatoya Bryson added five. Lauren Chancellor, Jo’Nah Johnson, Gabrielle Johnson, Megan Hartness, and Smith each scored four on the night.
The Bronchos return to the court for a double-header this weekend. UCO plays Tarleton State on Saturday before playing Texas Woman’s on Sunday. Both games are in Denton, Texas as part of the Texas Woman’s Classic.
And the University of Central Oklahoma men’s basketball team used a big first-half run and never looked back before an 85-74 win over Oklahoma Christian Tuesday night. The Bronchos improve to 2-1 on the season following the win.
“You can tell we’re still working out some kinks,” UCO head coach Tom Hankins said. “We had a really strong shooting night and that helped us overcome some holes in our game. I’m proud of the way the guys fought early, this place was rocking, and then stayed strong late when they made that last big push.”
Marqueese Grayson led the Bronchos with 18 points. The senior guard was one of five to score in double figures for UCO. Grayson hit 3-of-5 threes in the win on a 7 of 11 overall shooting night.
The hot shooting hand followed the Bronchos. UCO shot just under 60 percent – 56.9 – from the field Tuesday. UCO was at one point 8 of 13 from 3-point land, before finishing 8 of 16 from behind the arc.
Corbin Byford also added a double-figure scoring game for the third-straight game to start the season. Byford had 15 points and nine rebounds. Marquis Johnson had 13 points, Phabian Glasco added 12 points and six boards, and Anthony Roberson had 10 points, five rebounds, and one steal.
Central opened the game in a back and forth fight with Oklahoma Christian. UCO was down 5-0 before finally getting on the scoreboard. That would be the biggest lead of the game though for OC. Though the Eagles kept a close lead, and even led UCO take a small early lead, Oklahoma Christian kept trading blows with the Bronchos in the first half.
That was until the halfway point of the half. Trailing 19-16 with 11 minutes to play, Grayson hit a 3-pointer to tie the game. Then a huge offensive rebound, put-back slam by Roberson gave the Bronchos a lead and began a run for Central that put the Bronchos in the driver’s seat and soon ahead 30-19. UCO had control the rest of the way.
The Bronchos got out to a 15-point lead when Grayson hit another three at the 1:34 mark of the first half. Central led by as many as 23 in the second half.
UCO concludes its four-game season-opening road trip Saturday at Tarleton State before making its home debut next Tuesday against Jarvis Christian.