Drovers Sweep Senior Day (Photo Essay)

Tahlia Sloan-Casey, one of three seniors honored, shoots over her CCC defender on Senior Day.

Emily Loughridge, Editor-in-Chief

USAO hosted their final home game of the season Saturday afternoon against Central Christian College (CCC). Saturday was also Senior Day to honor six seniors within the basketball program including, Zaria Dorsey, Jessica Palmer, Tahlia Sloan-Casey, Gerard Makuntae, Langston Gaither, and Samkelo Cele. A ceremony was held between games to show appreciate for the players’ dedication and hard work throughout their time at USAO.

USAO’s women (21-4, 15-4 SAC) put up the first two points of the game due to a layup by BB Polk. Once the Drovers secured this lead, they never turned it over to CCC (023, 0-19 SAC). The Drovers pressed the Tigers the first quarter to force their hand into a turnover. USAO’s teamwork led to a 17-0 score at the end of the first quarter. The Drovers did not let up as they charged into the second quarter. Although, the Tigers eventually scored early in the second quarter.

USAO’s head coach Darrick Matthews utilized his 12-person bench by subbing out five players at a time throughout all four quarters. On the other hand, CCC had a small seven-person crew to battle against USAO’s constant set of fresh legs.

CCC kept themselves in the fight when the ended the first half with a deep three pointer from Rachel Perkins. Going into halftime, USAO led 40-13. The Drovers came into the third quarter and scored 16 points before the Tigers could respond with their first points of the second half. When the third buzzer rang, USAO led 74-20 which put them on track to break the century mark.

Saturday’s matchup mirrored when USAO traveled to CCC’s home court in Kanas January 12th on won with a score od 104-28. With a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Tigers made a small run with a pair of free throws, a three-pointer, and a layup. The final score was 98-29, falling in favor of USAO.

The Drover’s press defense forced 37 turnovers which they scored 54 points off of. USAO tallied an additional 22 points from fast breaks. The third quarter was the biggest for the Drovers when they outscored CCC 34-7. Every player on USAO’s team found themselves in the scoring column, which was led by Diaka Berete who chalked up 20 points, six rebounds, and four steals. Toni Fortune followed closely with 14 points and four steals. For the three seniors, Dorsey and Sloan-Casey each had seven points. Dorsey paired it with five rebounds while Sloan-Casey had seven. Palmer played a scrappy game to put up four points, six rebounds, and three assists.

The men’s game began USAO (21-4, 15-4 SAC) winning the tip. Yet, CCC (7-18, 5-14 SAC) earned the first two-points of the game off a layup. However, after losing this lead, due to Cade Allen’s first three-pointer of the night, the Tigers never regained the lead. The first half was a blur of points, but most notably was Cele scoring 21 of USAO’s 43 points by the time the first buzzer rang. CCC trailed USAO at the half with a score of 43-36.

The Drovers stayed consistent by scoring 44 points in the second half to match the 43 points they tallied in the first. The Tigers tried various tactics to damper the Drover’s shooting, such as a full court press in the middle of the second half. Although, it did not phase the Drovers because they quickly scored. The final score was 87-65, in favor of the Drovers.

Three Drovers scored in the double digits including, Cele, Makuntae, and Allen. Cele lead with 32 points and five rebounds. Cele went 11-16 from the field, 3-5 from behind the arc, and 7-7 from the charity stripe. Makuntae tallied 11 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. Allen added 11 points and three rebounds.

Both Drover teams will be on the road this week to play Wayland Baptist University February 16th starting at 6 p.m., and USAO will remain on the road into the weekend as travel to Oklahoma Panhandle State University February 18th starting at 2 p.m.


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