Written by: Austin Braddock
As Oklahoma Wesleyan basketball continued the Eagles’ quest in defending their conference championship from a year ago, a giant loomed in their way. The giant, a hungry Ottawa University Braves team whom split the regulation season series. The game on Saturday, February 23, would decide who goes to conference finals. Winner of conference championship goes to National Tournament in the NAIA bracket. However, because OKWU placed first place in the regular season games, they get an automatic bid.
The first big play of the February 23 game happened with Tasmania Jones, an Ottawa senior,
picking up two quick fouls within a minute of starting the game. This is important because with five fouls, a player is then disqualified for the remainder of the game. Jones was one of the “big men,” one of the Braves’ key defenders. He ended up picking up his fifth foul with eight minutes left in the second half, to the delight of the Eagles. Ottawa, however, handled themselves well during the first half.
Within the first few minutes of the game was a tug-of-war, with the score tied at 7 points with almost 19 minutes left in the half. However, Ottawa went on an 8-0 run, scoring most of their points from OKWU turnovers, leaving the score at 15-7 Ottawa.
After Coach Bostwick called a time out, the Eagles stormed back onto the court with some crazy three pointers, and a couple of hard-fought points scored in the paint with 10 minutes left in the first half, leaving the score 21-24. Both teams traded baskets until the seven-minute mark, leaving the score 27-29 Ottawa. The Braves then went on a momentum-seizing scoring festival with easy lay-ups, and deep open threes which were aided by more OKWU turnovers, which left the score 51-43 Ottawa at the half.
OKWU came back from halftime and took the lead at 55-54 fifteen minutes left in the second half. After a nearly stale-mated eight minutes of action, the Eagles started to take control with a deep three-pointer from junior Ryan Haskins, making the score 73-70 in favor of OKWU. With 8:36 left in the second half, Ottawa’s best defensive player, Jones, fouled out. This tipped the game to OKWU’s favor, and we finished the game outscoring Ottawa, with a 23-18 run to seal the win. The final score was 96-88. OKWU now will play for the conference championship Monday night, February 25.
In a game where the OKWU Eagles had to come from behind to win at home, it was their solid defense and the crowd boosting their spirits that helped the team overcome a deficit and maintain a lead. Coach Bostwick comments in a postgame interview, “We came out in the second half and grabbed the momentum and just wore them down slowly.” We’re proud of our men’s basketball team. Go Eagles!