Chris Brannick, Director of Sports Media Relations
EDMOND – Eighth-ranked Central Oklahoma cruised to a 65-55 win over No. 14 Central Missouri in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play at Hamilton Field House Thursday night.
The Bronchos (20-1, 11-1) took a 4-3 lead in the first quarter and never relinquished on their way to a ninth-straight win.
“We needed to do a good rebounding and on defense and I think we did that tonight,” UCO head coach Guy Hardaker said.
UCO clinched a spot in the MIAA tournament with the win, and takes over sole possession of first place in the league with seven games to play in the regular season. Central Missouri (17-3, 10-2) is now in a tie with Pittsburg State for second place. Both of those teams have also clinched a spot in the tournament that begins Feb. 28.
The top four teams in the conference get a first-round by in the tournament and an automatic spot in Kansas City, Mo. in the quarterfinals.
Jesheon Cooper grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with a putback to put UCO up 2-0. Central Missouri’s Megan Skaggs hit a 3-pointer on the other end to give the Jennies their only lead of the game. Cooper scored again on the next possession to put UCO ahead 4-3.
Cooper finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. The junior center added one steal.
Marley Anderson led the Bronchos with 17 points. Anderson hit three 3-pointers and made all six of her free throw attempts.
Melinda Murillo scored 15 points, dished out four assists, and led a defensive charge with three steals.
The Bronchos have been stellar on defense this season. UCO blocked nine shots and picked up six steals.
Central Missouri shot 35 percent from the floor Thursday night. It was the 20th game this season the Bronchos have forced their opponent below 40 percent.
Olivia Mason scored six points Thursday and now has 950 points in her career, a total that keeps the senior forward from Fairview in 16th place on the UCO all-time list.
Megan Womack scored five points off the bench, Blake Blessington scored four, and Shatoya Bryson scored two.
The Bronchos are back in action Saturday, when UCO hosts Southwest Baptist at 1:30 p.m. in Hamilton Field House.