Buffaloes Fall to Central Oklahoma in Double Overtime, 66-63
West Texas A&M falls in LSC semifinals despite decisive rebound edge
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Despite outrebounding seventh-ranked Central Oklahoma by 24 rebounds, the 24th-ranked West Texas A&M fell to the Bronchos, 66-63, in double overtime during semifinal action of the Lone Star ConferenceMen’s Basketball Championship, in Bartlesville, Okla., Saturday afternoon
The loss snaps a four-game win string for WTAMU and drops them to 23-6 on the year, while UCO improves to 27-3.
"I'm very proud of the way we fought today," said WT head coach Rick Cooper. "We did some things well enough to give us a chance to win the game. I thought we fought extremely hard to come back at the end of regulation and both overtime periods."
"I thought we rebounded the ball very well, today. But, we knew that we had to keep them off the glass, because you can't give a team as potent, offensively, as Central Oklahoma second chances. We stressed rebounding coming in to this game and it may have paid off for us.
WT twice fought back, scoring the last seven points in regulation to send the game into overtime, then tallying four of the final five points during the first overtime period to force a second overtime.
The Buffaloes racked up 53 rebounds, 36 coming on the defensive end. WT also had 17 offensive boards which led directly to 20 second-chance points.
After jumping to a quick, 7-0 start, the Buffaloes saw UCO go on a 16-1 run to put the Bronchos up, 16-8.
A baseline layup by LaDarius Hall (Sr-1L, Thomasville, Ga.) at the 6:49 mark gave WT its first field goal in over 11:17 and made the score 20-13.
The Buffs held the Bronchos scoreless from the field over the final 3:47 of the half and the teams went to the locker room with UCO holding a 28-20 lead.
The Buffs finally started to figure out UCO’s zone defense midway through the second half. A pair of Mason White (So-1L, Amarillo, Texas) free throws closed the gap to four points, 38-34, at the 12:30 mark. Less than one minute later, Jacquiese Holcombe (Sr-1L, College Park, Ga.) got a follow-up tip to pull the Buffaloes to within two points at the 11:52 point.
WT appeared to be slipping when they committed turnovers on three successive possessions, but Chubby Henderson (Jr-TR, Chandler, Ariz.) drained a three-pointer from the right wing to pull the Buffaloes one point, 40-39, with 10:03 to play.
UCO’s Tucker Phillips responded with a three of his own to put the Bronchos up by four points at the 9:31 mark.
By this time, the Buffs were having to play with their leading scorer, Hall, as well as point guard Lionel Foster (Jr-TR, Houston, Texas) sitting on the bench with four fouls.
Hall returned to the floor with just over six minutes left, and canned a pair of free throws to pull the Buffs back to within two points, 45-43.
Henderson then fielded a defensive rebound and threw the length of the court to a breaking Holcombe, who laid it in and the Buffs were down by two.
No sooner done, than UCO’s Phillips drove for a bucket and was fouled. His free throw put the Bronchos back up by a 50-45 count with 4:31 to play. Victor Driver followed with a short jumper and UCO was suddenly back up by seven points with just under four minutes to play.
The two teams exchanged a pair of free throws, making the score 54-47, with 2:57 remaining. Fouled under the offensive board, Holcombe proceeded to drain two more free throws at the 2:38 mark.
Foster then made a midcourt steal at the 2:11 mark, went to the hole for the bucket and was fouled. His free throw pulled WT back to within two points, 54-42.
Needing to make a defensive stop, the Buffs forced a shot clock violation, giving them possession with 1:35 to play. However, a baseline jumper by Hall was blocked, White couldn’t control the loose ball and UCO took over with 1;09 to play.
Again, the Buffs forced an empty UCO possession. Shane Carroll’s desperation three clanged off the rim into Foster’s hands, giving WT another shot at tying the game.
Following a timeout and with the shot clock off, the Buffaloes ran the clock. Rod Little’s (Jr-TR, Moss point, Miss.) three-pointer was off the mark, but Holcombe alertly tipped the ball in, tying the score, 54-54, with 8.7 on the clock. UCO’s Dauntae Williams misfired on two shots and the game went into overtime.
UCO’s Phillips opened the scoring with a three-pointer and WT’s Little responded with a 15-foot jumper.
Brent Friday then drove the bucket for a score, was fouled, but missed the free throw to put UCO up by a 6o-56 margin with 2:30 to play. The foul was against WT’s Hall, sending him to the bench.
Joe Mincey took a nice feed from Holcombe and laid one off the glass with 1:00 showing on the clock, pulling the Buffs to within one, 60-59. Following a miss by UCO’s Driver with the shot clock expiring, WT again had the ball with just 17 seconds showing on the clock.
The Buffs inbounded to Little and his severely contested short jumper missed with 12 seconds left. UCO’s Williams rebounded and was fouled.
Williams missed the front end and hit the second to put UCO up by two points with 8.4 seconds showing on the clock.
The Buffs drove the floor and Joe Mincey (Sr-1L, Brunswick, Ga.) hit a 10-footer to tie the score with 1.7 seconds left. A last second chunk by UCO was off the mark and the game headed into its second overtime period.
Central Oklahoma opened the second overtime by scoring the first four points to go up, 65-61, with 3:11 to play.
The Buffaloes continued to get good looks, but couldn’t get the ball to fall. Foster finally made a short banker with 34 seconds remaining in the second overtime, pulling the Buffs back to within three points, 66-63.
UCO’s Phillips missed both ends of a two shot foul situation and the Buffaloes had another chance.
Holcombe misfired on a long range three, but the Buffs kept possession when the ball went out of bounds off a UCO player. Foster’s last second leaner from three-point range missed the mark and WT’s tournament run ended, 66-63.
The Buffaloes shot just 33.9 percent from the floor, with three players reaching double-figure scoring totals. Holcombe had a team-high 19, Foster added 11 and Hall had 10 points. Holcombe was the game’s leading rebounder, with 10, while Foster and White each grabbed 10 boards. The Buffs hit 20 of 27 free throws for 74 percent.
The Buffaloes committed 23 turnovers.
"We didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but neither team did. UCO's defense had something to do with that on our end. They kept changing things up on us and forcing us to react to those changes."
UCO was paced by Williams’ game-high 23 points. Phillips added 13 points, Friday had 11 and Driver added 10 points. Friday was the Bronchos’ leading board man, with eight rebounds. UCO shot 40.4 percent from the floor and was 16-28 for 57 percent from the line.
The Buffaloes’ will now await the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball selection show, which will air Sunday evening at 9 p.m. CST on ncaa.com. WT is currently fourth in the South Central region and anticipate going to Joplin, Missouri for first and second-round action next weekend.
Kent Johnson Associate A.D./Media Relations West Texas A&M 806-651-4406