STILLWATER, Okla. — Once the Cowboys got into a gallop Sunday afternoon, they raced past the University of Central Arkansas men’s basketball team.
No. 23/24 Oklahoma State took a little while to get started Sunday, but when they finally did, they certainly played like a Top 25 team.
After the Bears took an 11-point lead over the Cowboys, ranked 24th and 25th in various polls, the host put together a 31-8 run to lead by 12 at halftime. They coasted from there to a 91-63 victory at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
"Our guys were getting out in transition, we were able to knock down shots," said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson of the Bears’ start. "I thought we had them a little flustered offensively and we were able to get some turnovers with our pressure. Our guys were doing pretty good.
"Anytime you play against a ranked team, you expect your guys to be kind of jacked up and full of energy. We did that but it was just too bad we weren’t able to sustain it. I know Oklahoma State is a tough team, and well-coached. We knew at some point in time they were going to get back into it, and unfortunately for us, we just couldn’t maintain."
UCA’s Jordan Harks, playing on an injured foot, tied his career high of 16 points, including eight of the first 13 in the second half for UCA (4-4). The Bears were playing without All Southland Conference guard LaQuentin Miles, who has a broken hand.
"They were attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line during that run they had," said Williamson. "And on the other end of the court, we kind of lost our minds offensively. I thought we took some quick shots, some forced shots. We got out of rhythm on offense. They turned it up defensively and their strength got to us. They were pushing us out of our spots when we were driving and we didn’t make the right adjustments."
UCA returns to the road Saturday, playing Mississippi State at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, Miss.
St. Joseph teams opened conference play Friday night with road victories over Western Yell County.
The Bulldogs surged to a 24-11 first-quarter lead on the way to a 68-48 victory in upping their record to 15-2.
"We played great the first quarter, then we were up and down the rest of the game," said coach Brent Bruich. "We just didn’t have the defensive intensity after the first quarter. Offensively, we played well. We shared the ball well and had great ball movement. It was a good first conference win and doing it on the road made it that much better."
Drew Bates led the Bulldogs with 14 points and Dylan Cooper added 12. Cole Schicthl had 11 points and four rebounds and Andrew Kordsmeier added 10 points and four rebounds. Other statistical leaders were: Taylor Schrekenhofer, seven points; Dylan Schrekenhofer, six points and five rebounds; Andrew Beck, five assists, two steals; Landon Enderlin, five assists, three steals; William Field, two assists.
The Lady Bulldogs (8-9) won the senior girls game, 36-31. Meagan Briggler led with 12 points and five rebounds. Madeline Moix had 10 points and six rebounds. Anna Mayor had six points and six rebounds. Morgan Kordsmeier had four points and three rebounds. Taylor Womack had seven rebounds and Rachel Briggler, four assists.
St. Joseph (5-6) won the junior girls’ game, 25-16. Amber Briggler had 10 points and Jessie Elzinger and Erin Sterka had four each.
Conway Christian’s senior boys (4-5) opened their conference season Friday night with a 59-50 victory over Bigelow on the road.
The Eagles led by 11 at the half.
Andrew Dather led the Eagles with 17 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Fellow senior Tanner Stevenson scored 16 points, had two rebounds, and one steal.
Other statistical leaders were: Brandon Helms, seven points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal; John Nekonchuk, nine points, eight rebounds and a steal; Mark Belvardi, five points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal; Luke Beckman, two points, three rebounds, five steals.
"Overall, I’m pleased with the way our kids played tonight, first conference game on the road against a well-coached team," said coach Brian Narretto. "It was a good win for us, one in which I believe we can build off of."
(UCA Sports Information added to this report)