The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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Efficiency was Key in Close Game Against CCC

Laura Barrios Bardi
Cejay Mann snatches the ball from CCC and looks to make a fast break play with his team.

After their short trip to face the Stars of Oklahoma City University (OCU) (9-17, 7-13 SAC), in which USAO fell in a close game by eight points (80-72). USAO’s men’s basketball (18-8, 13-7 SAC) came back to Brisco McPherson Court in a SAC matchup Thursday, Feb. 22, to face Central Christian College (CCC) (12-14, 9-11 SAC) out of McPherson, Kan.  

The first half was hard-nosed basketball, seeing a few lead changes throughout the half. Junior forward Niieihii Blackbear made his presence known though, as he would hit a dunk in the first five minutes of action. CCC put up a fight and was able to stay in the game thanks to their three-point shooting, making seven shots from beyond the arc in the first half.  Despite not hitting as many three-point shots, the Drovers were great at rebounding, with 21 in the first half compared to the 11 from the Tigers. USAO secured the lead at halftime with a score of 44-42. 

Senior guard Reggie Quezada led the way for the Drovers with 14 points in the first half along with three rebounds and three assists. Blackbear came off the bench and put up a respectable 11 points and three rebounds in the half.  

As the second half got underway, it was clear the Drovers were looking to run away with the lead. With only three and a half minutes off the clock, junior guard Jaden Harrell got a steal and dished it to Quezada on the fastbreak for an easy layup, giving USAO a ten-point lead (52-42).  

The highlight of the night from the Drovers came from the duo of freshman forward Ryein Kennedy and Blackbear. Just under 14 minutes left in the second half, Blackbear recorded a steal that he threw to Kennedy for him to hit a dunk. On the next possession, Blackbear recovered a defensive rebound and passed the ball to Kennedy to which he hit a three-pointer to continue setting the tone. USAO’s offense continued winning the first ten minutes of the second half, as the Drovers built a lead of 14 points, the second highest of the game, but they couldn’t let their guard down.  

The last ten minutes of the second half were not as impressive for USAO. While junior guard Cejay Mann and senior forward Rory Pantophlet recorded steals for the Drovers, the offense only put up six points from the ten-minute mark to the three-and-a-half-minute mark. CCC continued their efforts as they were within three points of taking the lead with one minute and ten seconds left in the game. However, USAO stayed focused and finished the game with a win by nine points, with a score of 84-75.  

USAO held CCC to 33.3% shooting in the second half, playing good defense on a team that relies on their shooting to win. The Drover defense accounted for nine steals and four blocks in total with six steals and two blocks coming in the second half.  

USAO ended the game with high efficiency, shooting 52.4% total for the game while playing good defense and holding CCC to 40%. The Drovers relied on all their players, with 44 of their points coming from players not on the starting lineup.  

Quezada led the way on offense tonight, scoring 24 points along with eight rebounds and five assists. Blackbear ended the game with 15 points, his second highest of the season, along with four rebounds and two steals. Kennedy also earned double digits in the game as he had 11 points, five rebounds, and a steal.  

“The efficiency helped big time especially towards the end when the shots really mattered and having them at 40% shows how guarding hard throughout the game will help win,” Blackbear said.  

The Drovers will finish the regular season at home Saturday, Feb. 24, against Langston University (26-1, 20-1 SAC) at 3:45 p.m. 


Matthew Yokum is a second-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributors
Matthew Yokum
Matthew Yokum, Senior Writer
Matthew is a third-year communication major from Chickasha. He also works in USAO's Sports Information Department. If you see Matthew on campus, ask about his dog, Stormy!   Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: May 2023 - present Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - April 2023
Laura Barrios Bardi
Laura Barrios Bardi, Contributing Photographer
Laura is a fourth-year art major from El Paso, TX. Laura currently works for USAO's Sports Information Department as a photographer. She is also a member of USAO's track and field team. Her hobbies include stargazing, spending time with friends, and working towards elevating her photography skills.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Photographer: Nov. 2022 - present