Rich Tortorelli, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
BILLINGS, Mont. – Oklahoma City University fended off Arizona Christian 75-71 on Thursday night at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in the NAIA Division I women’s basketball tournament.
OCU notched its 13th 30-win season. The 10th-ranked Stars (30-4) take on sixth-ranked Carroll (Mont.) (26-7) at 9:45 p.m. MDT (10:45 p.m. CDT) Friday night.
Oklahoma City has collected 20 25-win seasons over the past 21 years. OCU owns a 645-86 mark for an .882 winning percentage since 1998-99. OCU padded the best all-time record in NAIA Tournament play, moving to 72-15.
The Stars improved to 2-4 this season against ranked competition with the victory over 21st-ranked Arizona Christian (21-12).
OCU’s Michaela Kay nailed a free throw with 1.1 seconds remaining for the final margin. The Stars overcame a three-point fourth-quarter deficit as Arizona Christian rallied to lead 57-54 with 6:53 remaining.
Oklahoma City responded with eight unanswered points. Mallory Lockhart knocked in a pair of running jump shots near the basket to key the run. Lockhart scored to put the Stars back on top 58-57, then nailed a jumper for a 62-57 OCU advantage with 4:38 showing on the clock.
“At the end of the game, it was a quick back-and-forth,” Lockhart said. “We had to one-play-at-a-time, stop them and score on the other end, stop them and score on the other end. At the end, we were able to hit down free throws, which sealed the game for us.”
NaShyla Hammons delivered nine fourth-period points for OCU. Hammons canned a trey to grow the Stars’ lead to 67-62 at the 2:20 mark. She hit free throws to put OCU up 72-68 with 31.4 seconds left.
Abby Selzer chipped in a 3-point play to move OCU’s lead to 70-64 with 58.3 seconds remaining. Selzer caught Brennyn Seagler’s feed, then split a double team to lay the ball in. She added a foul shot.
OCU led 74-69 with 13 seconds to go after Lockhart nailed a couple of free throws.
Lockhart, a freshman from Keller, Texas, spurred on the Stars with 19 points off the bench, 16 of which came in the second half. Selzer, a freshman from Thomas, Okla., posted 13 points while shooting 5-for-7 from the field, and Hammons, a junior from Oklahoma City, put together her second double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Courtney Christmas provided Arizona Christian with 26 points, five rebounds and six steals. Christmas, a senior from Peoria, Ariz., nailed all seven of her foul shots. She tops the NAIA with 23.7 points a game.
OCU led by as many as 14 points. Shamika Smith downed a free throw to put the Stars ahead 47-33 with 3:41 left in the third period.
Toni Davis sank a 3-pointer to give Arizona Christian an 18-17 edge early in the second quarter, but the Stars rallied with an 11-0 surge. Seagler contributed a bucket and a trey to the OCU onslaught. Selzer’s free throws capped the run, building OCU’s lead to 28-18 with 7:02 showing in the second.
OCU charged out to a 7-2 early lead. Taylor LaCour scored off Payton Taylor’s assist to put the Stars on top by five points with 6:45 to go in the first quarter. The Stars cashed in on Kay’s steal on the bucket.