Murray Evans, Sports Information Director
CLAREMORE – Just in time for the postseason, Addy Clift is reminding Heartland Conference foes that she’s capable of quickly impacting basketball games.
After a three-point first half, Clift scored 18 of her 28 points in the third quarter to stake Oklahoma Christian to a double-digit lead, then hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer in the fourth quarter as the Lady Eagles hung on for a 74-68 win over Rogers State on Saturday afternoon at the Claremore Expo Center.
The win gave OC a regular-season sweep of the Hillcats for the second straight season. OC (9-17, 5-9 Heartland Conference) finished fifth in the Heartland’s regular-season standings and will face fourth-place Newman (Kan.) on Friday in the conference tournament quarterfinals in Tulsa. Rogers State (10-16, 5-9) will be the sixth seed and will play third-seeded St. Mary’s in another first-round game.
In OC’s last three games, Clift has scored 103 points, including 35 against No. 2-ranked Lubbock Christian (Texas) last Saturday and 40 against league runner-up Arkansas-Fort Smith on Thursday. The junior guard from Kiowa had a 17-point fourth quarter against Lubbock Christian, only to exceed with her third quarter at Rogers State.
She won the Heartland’s regular-season scoring title averaging 21.1 points per game – more than three points higher than the league’s No. 2 scorer. Clift also had four assists against Rogers State.
Scoring came Saturday from others, too – freshman Maddison Collyer (13 points, six assists), freshman Katie Mayo (13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and five rebounds) and sophomore Carolyne Lawley (11 points).
“Addy caught fire and she got some help today, with three other players in double figures,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “We had good teamwork sharing the ball and picking up 15 assists. I was worried about fatigue setting in after playing such a tough game Thursday but the girls responded well and executed our game plan better than any time this season.”
The Lady Eagles led nearly all the way, but Rogers State never let them get comfortable. OC sprinted to a 23-12 first-quarter lead before the Hillcats closed the quarter on an 8-0 run. Both teams struggled mightily on offense in the second quarter, scoring six points each, giving OC a 29-26 halftime lead.
Rogers State tied the game at 36-36 on a three-point play by Lauren Schuldt with 5:59 left in the third quarter, but Lawley hit a free throw and Clift followed with a 3-pointer before Collyer’s three-point play rebuilt OC’s advantage to seven points. Clift had three more 3-pointers in the quarter, the last in the final seconds to put OC up 58-45.
But the Hillcats answered with a 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter, again tying the game – it was 58-58 when Schuldt hit a free throw with 5:59 left, but she missed a second attempt that would’ve given Rogers State the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter.
Clift responded with a 3-pointer with 5:42 left and freshman Delyssa Miller followed with a three-point play with 3:53 left that gave OC a 64-58 left.
Collyer had another three-point play with 1:29 left to make it 71-64. Rogers State had the ball down 71-68, but OC senior Audrey Hayes stole it from Darian Jackson and Collyer made 1 of 2 free throws with 18 seconds left. Clift made two more free throws with 11 seconds left to seal the win.
“Hitting free throws in the second half was huge,” Findley said. “We have to be able to step up and knock them down.”
Jackson led the Hillcats with 24 points while Schuldt had 17.