Drovers Sent the Aggies Packing (Photo Essay)

Senior Samkelo Cele sprints down the court attempting to get past OPSU defenders on Thursday night.

Laura Barrios Bardi, Contributing Photographer

Thursday night as USAO resumed school for the spring trimester, the Drovers rallied together against Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU). The women’s basketball team looked to keep their near perfect record, while the men’s team also looked to improve their record. 

USAO’s 19th ranked women’s basketball team maintained a strong lead from the start against the Aggies. USAO led the first quarter with a 21-5 difference which only continued to grow as the game continued. By half time, USAO’s lead grew to 42-17 with Coach Darrick Matthews utilizing his bench’s depth. With a great atmosphere in the fieldhouse, USAO concluded the game with a score of 78-43. OPSU struggled handling the ball and ended the game with 37 team turnovers, which the Drovers took advantage of with 21 team steals.

Five different Drovers ended the night scoring double digits. Lainey Morrow lead the scoring column with 15 points along with four rebounds and two blocks. Toni Fortune came off the bench to score 12 points. 

USAO’s men’s basketball maintained the energy throughout their match-up. Entering the men’s game against OPSU, Gerard Makuntae was only 15 points shy of reaching the 1,000 point milestone. The quick style of play, left USAO ahead by 11 at the half way mark. Strong defense was key for USAO’s team in last their win against the Aggies, heading into halftime, the Drovers were leading 47-36. The Drovers found their spark as Makuntae edged closer to the 1,000 point mark. 

Mankuntae sealed the deal with an easy lay-up. Coach Chris Francis called a timeout to honor Mankuntae’s achievement before resuming play. Makuntae is the 17th Drover to earn this high honor. He finished out the game with 21 points and nine rebounds.

Senior Samkelo Cele led the Drovers with 28 points. Sophomore Cade Allen reached a season high of 21 points. The Drovers continue to show how important it is to play unselfishly as they tallied a total of 23 assists as a team last night. 

Both teams will pack the USAO’s home court Saturday against Wayland Baptist University. The women begin at 2 pm, with the men following at 3:45 pm.

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