Stars Send Hillcats Home, 71-65
SHAWNEE, Okla. – The Rogers State men’s season came to a close Friday night inside the Noble Complex on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University as the Oklahoma City Stars won 71-65 in the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinals.
RSU built a nine point lead in the opening six minutes of play but a 15-4 spurt by the Stars put seventh seeded OCU ahead, 19-17, with 8:40 remaining in the first half. The Stars built the lead to as much as 11 points in just a four minute span and held the advantage at the break 34-27.
The Hillcats put together a 10-3 run to open the second stanza tying the game at 37-37 with 16:35 to go on a pair of Alex Ewings free throws. RSU kept the game at a one-possession affair and tied the Stars twice over the next four minutes.
A bucket by OCU’s Ivan Matip with 7:21 to go stretched the lead to 54-47 for the Stars. RSU fought back and a put back layup from Ken Holdman off his own miss trimmed the deficit to 65-63 with 24 seconds to go.
Forced to foul, RSU sent Shawn Grant to the free throw line and the senior forward hit the pair to build the lead back to four for OCU. Holdman dashed the distance of the court for a layup to trim it back to a two point RSU deficit but the Cats attempt to steal the inbounds pass led to an easy lay-in for OCU. RSU missed a final three pointer in the final seconds and the Stars hit a pair of free throws to claim the 71-65 victory.
The Hillcats hit just 2-of-11 from three-point range in the first half and shot 3-of-15 for the game from behind the arc. The points came in the paint for RSU led by senior forward Justynn Hammond who finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds. RSU outscored the Stars 30-26 in the paint. Senior point guard Ken Holdman had 17 points in the loss. Senior Alex Ewings playing the final game of his four year career totaled 14 points for RSU.
Donald Williams closed out his two year Hillcat career with six points giving him 1,000 points in his career making him the third in program history to reach the career plateau.
Senior center Brian Gibson finished with four points and four rebounds in the final game of his career for the Hillcats. Held out due to an injury suffered earlier this season Kendrell Thompson closes out his career with 779 points at RSU.
Oklahoma City ( 17-10) and the number seven seed in the tournament will face the No. 1 seed John Brown in the SAC Tournament Final on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Rogers State (21-11) closes out the season with its sixth consecutive twenty win season in the program’s six year history.