Central Christian College’s men won’t win the Sooner Athletic Conference basketball title, but they certainly will have a say in who does.
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma entered Saturday in a tie for the SAC lead and ranked No. 7 in the country.
It limped out of Alexander Arena having been shellacked, 85-67, and out of first place, sending shockwaves throughout the conference.
The upset alert was out early as the Tigers took a 30-29 lead into the break. But nobody could have foreseen a 55-point Central eruption in the second half as it ran away and hid from the Drovers, who fell out of first place in the SAC as they are 9-5, 18-6 overall.
“Man, what an effort from our guys tonight,” Central coach Tony Romero said. "I told them before the game we were due for a great defensive game and the guys didn't disappoint. We did such a good job on the ball and off the ball, we were flying around, playing with passion and contesting shots. Kendric (Warren) had a monster game for us, he really anchored our defense. I thought Antonio (Daniels) came in and played big the first half when Jubril (Osagie) got in foul trouble. Cam (Martin) and TJ (Williams) did great directing our offense, Paul (Ard) had a big offensive game and LaDarius (Lenard) played unbelievable defense on their top guy."
Warren was a defensive demon with a school-record 8 blocks and 11 rebounds. Ard II led in scoring with 24, Martin tallied 15 (along with dealing 8 assists) and Osagie had 10. As a team Central had a school-record 13 blocks.
The Tigers are just 5-9 in the SAC and 12-10 overall, but they continue to be a tough out for anyone as several games have gone against them that were decided by just one possession. But on this night they closed it out strong and caused those around the SAC to take a second look to make sure the score was right.
“Just a great job all-around from our team,” Romero said. “The second half we really did well turning our stops into offense. I thought we showed a lot of character after having a poor performance on Thursday, and giving a great effort tonight. Did a much better job moving the basketball and executing our stuff tonight. This was an important win for our team, we are fighting to get ourselves into the conference playoff picture."
The Tigers’ playoff chances will be greatly influenced by next week’s games as they play Thursday at Wayland Baptist and Saturday at Panhandle State.
Central (85) — Warren 8, Osagie 10, Martin 15, Lenard 9, Ard II 24, Daniels 2, Williams 13, Kuminga 4.
USAO (67) — Scott 8, Tahraoui 13, Parmer 14, Foster 4, Balatzar 2, Garrett 20, McLaurin 2, Smith 4.
• USAO WOMEN 88, CENTRAL 49 — After playing a competitive first half against the SAC-leading Drovers, down only 40-27, the Tigers were overwhelmed 48-22 in the second half.
“USAO lived up to their high ranking,” CCC coach Marc Golden said. “After a closely fought first quarter, foul trouble and fatigue took its toll. The rebounding deficit and the turnovers are two areas that we must improve right away. USAO is one of the better defenders in the conference and I give them credit for their superb defense today."
Central turned it over 25 times in falling to 0-14 in the SAC and 1-21 overall.
Abbie Banks was the only Tiger in double figures with 18 points. Central had no answer for the Drovers’ Darian Hill, who scored 29 points by making 12 of 17 shots. USAO is now 12-2 in the SAC and 20-3 overall.
The Tigers go to Wayland Baptist on Thursday.
Central (49) — Forsberg 4, Hearne 1, Cooke 9, Banks 18, Golden 9, Regier 3, Anderson 1, Mefford 4.
USAO (88) — Worthy 3, Hill 29, Holcomb 4, Johnson 6, Bean 6, James 11, Hart 9, Alexander 9, Allen 3, Coffey 8.