In an intense Great American Conference rivalry matchup, the East Central University men’s basketball team faced off against arch-rival Southeastern Oklahoma State University Thursday night inside the Kerr Activities Center.
The Tigers showcased their skills from the 3-point range, but the Savage Storm executed a late scoring run to defeat ECU 78-69.
The loss drops the Tigers to 9-8 overall and 5-6 in GAC play, putting them in a three-way tie for sixth place in conference standings. The Savage Storm are now 12-7 overall and hold down the second-place spot with an 8-3 record.
The game was closely contested the entire way, with 11 ties and 10 lead changes. Despite ECU’s higher shooting percentage from the field and nailing eight 3-pointers, the Storm held a narrow 39-37 edge heading into halftime.
The second half mirrored the intensity of the first, with neither team enjoying a lead larger than five points for the majority of the contest. Robel Desta’s layup at the 4:10 mark brought the Tigers within three at 65-62, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Southeastern widened the gap to 71-62 with 2:54 left to play. The Storm’s lead eventually reached 12 points before the visitors secured the eight-point win.
Southeastern outscored ECU 39-32 in the second half to capture the victory, with a pivotal factor being their efficiency at the free-throw line, going 16-of-19 compared to the Tigers’ meager 1-of-6 outing.
Three Tigers’ scored in double figures — Nikk Williams, Keyon Thomas, and Godsgift Ezedinma. Williams posted a team-high 18 points, going 8-for-12 from the field while Thomas added 14 points shooting 5-for-12 from the floor, including four from beyond the arc. Ezedinma was close behind with 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
Southeastern saw five different players reach double figures. Jett Sternberger led the way with 15 points and Kyle Leslie followed with 14 points and eight rebounds.
The ECU men’s basketball will aim to move back into the win column today when they take on Northwestern Oklahoma State University at 3 p..m. in Alva.
Cold-shooting ECU women fall to rivals
On an electrifying rivalry night within the Great American Conference, the East Central University women’s basketball team hosted Southeastern Oklahoma State University Thursday night inside the Kerr Activities Center.
While the first half witnessed a closely contested match, the Tigers faced a setback in the third quarter, ultimately resulting in a 59-46 loss.
Southeastern left town at 6-11 overall and 2-9 in conference play, while ECU dropped to 5-10 and 1-10.
“We had plenty of open opportunities to make shots,” Head Coach Heather Hurt said. “Credit Southeastern for executing defensively. We have to step up offensively and make shots.”
The Lady Tigers scored a combined 13 points in the middle two frames, hitting just 5-of-25 (20%) field goals during that cold streak.
In the initial three minutes of the game, both teams exchanged points and leads. However, a 3-pointer by Kate Ogle sparked a 7-0 run, propelling the Tigers to a 12-6 lead midway through the opening quarter. Southeastern would close the gap to within one point on three occasions, but ECU maintained control, leading 18-15.
The second quarter was sluggish, with only one field goal made from either team within the first five minutes. The Savage Storm would eventually knot the score at 22-all with 4:10 left to play in the half, but Chloe Malone’s jumper would conclude the quarter with the Tigers holding a 24-22 edge heading into halftime.
Out of the break, ECU extended their lead to four points with Mackenzy Herman’s jumper, but a 12-3 scoring run by Southeastern allowed the Savage Storm to break away, taking a 34-29 lead at the 4:38 mark. Going into the final stanza, the Tigers found themselves trailing 39-31.
The Tigers initiated a comeback in the fourth quarter with a 7-3 scoring run to close the gap to four points at 42-38, but that would be as close as ECU would get.
Natalie Payne and Mackenzie Crusoe led the scoring effort, with Payne posting 11 points while Crusoe added 10.
Caitlin Kobiske led the way for the Savage Storm with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Kenzli Warden followed with a double-double that included 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The ECU women’s basketball team will make the long road trip to Alva today to battle host Northwestern. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Note: Ada News Sports Editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.