Palmer’s Three-Pointers Propel Drovers (Photo Essay)

USAO’s bench leaps out of their seats to cheer on their teammates.

Emily Loughridge, Editor-in-Chief

Saturday night presented two tense matchups as USAO hosted Wayland Baptist University (WBU) for another round of conference play. USAO’s women hoped to maintain their near perfect record (16-1, 10-1 SAC) against the Flying Queens (10-7, 6-5 SAC). USAO’s men (11-6, 8-3 SAC) looked to upset the Pioneer’s evenly split record even further (11-6, 6-5 SAC).

The Drovers had a slow start in the first quarter which left the Flying Queens on top 19-17 at the end of the first. WBU lead the stats column by shooting 57.1% from the field and 66.7% from the charity stripe in the first. USAO held their own by shooting 60% from behind the three-point arc. Flying into the second quarter, both teams held their own with free throws, but USAO began their comeback with more made shots within the arc. Going into halftime, USAO had claimed the lead with a score of 45-36.

The Drovers came into the third slowly to score eight in the third, compared to the Flying Queens’ 15 points. The fourth quarter started with a score of 53-51, making the final quarter tense with anticipation. The Flying Queens hit a wall at the free throw line, going 0-5 in the final quarter. Meanwhile, USAO shot 83.3% of their free throws, and paired it with 62.5% field goals made and 100% from the three-point line. The Flying Queens stumbled through the final quarter, while USAO regained their footing to easily swipe a 72-65 win over WBU.

USAO had four players in double digits with BB Polk leading the charge. Polk had 14 points paired with four rebounds and three steals. Jessica Palmer followed her with 12 points and four steals. Palmer made her money from behind the arc, making 4-5 three-pointers on the night. Lainey Morrow and Diake Berete tacked on 11 points each.

The men’s game started off at a fast clip with WBU scoring their first to points within the first 15 seconds of play. However, it took two full minutes of play before USAO responded with their first points of the game, which came from a three-pointer shot by Gerard Makuntae. After that shot, both teams kept snatching the lead from each other, without either team getting a healthy lead over the other. After 20 intense minutes of play, the Pioneers dunked the ball to take a 50-48 lead into the locker rooms.

While the score remained close throughout the second half, the Drovers began slipping a little at a time. With around 11 minutes left of play, WBU secured their lead and outshot the Drovers to widen the gap. At this point, the score was 76-63. The Drovers kept playing and with six minutes left, they had worked their way back into the game with a score of 78-74. The final score was 93-83 in favor of the Pioneers.

While the Drovers suffered a loss, USAO had three players with double doubles. First, Langston Gaither with 26 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Samkelo Cele with 15 points and ten rebounds, and, finally, Mankuntae with ten points and 12 rebounds. Cejay Mann and Cade Allen each tacked on 12 points.

The Drover teams are on the road to play Texas Wesleyan University Monday starting at 6pm, and will be back on their home court Thursday against John Brown University beginning at 6pm.


Emily Loughridge is a second-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.