Drovers Go Down to the Wire (Photo Essay)

Senior Gerard Makuntae blocked the ball from an attempted layup by UNT-Dallas, he finished the game with four total blocks.

Laura Barrios Bardi, Contributing Photographer

The Drover’s fieldhouse had an electrifying energy in the conference match-ups against UNT-Dallas Saturday, December 3rd. The women’s basketball team kept their win streak alive and extended it to nine after surpassing the Trailblazers. The women continue to make history with the best start in program history with a Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) record of 4-0. USAO’s men suffered a loss that went down to the final tenth of a second in the fourth quarter. The upsetting loss left the Drovers with a 3-1 SAC record, similarly to UNT-Dallas who has a matching record.

The women kicked off the game by controlling over the first quarter, with a 22-18 score at the first buzzer. However, USAO’s energy stalled in the second which allowed the Trailblazers to pull back into the game. USAO was outscored 16-14 in the second leading to a 36-34 halftime score, in the Drovers favor. The game dragged through the third and fourth quarters with an abundance of fouls being called on both teams. UNT- Dallas and USAO ended the game with 26 teams fouls each. The Drovers kept their small lead through the second half and won by a small five-point margin. The final score was 70-65. 

Lainey Morrow led the Drovers in scoring with 20 points, and additional aid with four rebounds and four steals. Diaka Berete and Zaria Dorsey contributed 15 points each. Berete earned a double-double with her points along with 12 rebounds. USAO shot 39.3% from the field and 28.6% from behind the arc. The Drovers found their money from the charity stripe where they shot 63.2% as a team.

 USAO’s men suffered their first conference loss against the Trailblazers. Both teams came out of the gate on fire. The lead switched hands a few times throughout the first half, but the teams hit halftime tied 53 all. After halfitme, the Drovers stumbled a bit and gave the Trailblazers the lead. Yet, in the last few minutes of play USAO overcame a several point deficit and reentered the game.

In the final minute of the game, the score was 97-93 in favor of the Trailblazers. After a made lay-up and free-throw, UNT-Dallas extended their lead to 100-94. The time continued to tick by, when USAO’s head coach, Chris Francis, called a short time out. With 16 seconds left on the clock, Gerard Makuntae made a quick jump shot bumping the score of 100-96. As the Trailblazers were inbounding the ball, on USAO’s half, Makuntae stole the ball and made another layup bringing USAO within two points. If the last play wasn’t exciting enough, Langston Gaither brought USAO fans to their feet when he sent a three-pointer through the net with 13 seconds left. More tension play resumed, and Gaither once again brought fans to their feet when he made a lay-up to tied both teams at 101-101 with three seconds left. The nail-in-the-coffin for the Drovers was when Makuntae fouled a UNT-Dallas shooter on a three-point shot which sent the player to the charity stripe with three shots. With a tenth of a second left in play, pressure rested on the Trailblazer, but he made all three free-throws to boost the score to 104-101, which was the final score.

Makuntae led three columns, including scoring rebounds, and blocks. He had 29 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks. Samkelo Cele boasted another impressive game, as well, with 27 points and five rebounds. Cejay Mann assisted with 17 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc. As a team USAO shot 55.7% from the field, compared to the Trailblazers’ 50.7%, and from the free-throw line USAO shot 75%, compared the UNT-Dallas’s 71.1%.

Both Drover teams will be on the road to MACU, where they play Thursday, December 8th, starting at 6 pm. USAO will return to their home court Saturday, December 10th, where the women will start at 2 pm.

Laura Barrios Bardi is a second-year Fine Arts major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.